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"MAKE  THEIR  ACQUAINTANCE ;  FOR  AMY  WILL  BE 
FOUND  DELIGHTFUL,  BETH  VERY  LOVELY,  MfiG  BEAUTIFUL, 
AND  Jo  SPLENDID  !  "  —  The  Catholic  World. 

LITTLE    WOMEN.      By   LOUISA  M.   ALCOTT. 
In  Two  Parts.     Price  of  each  $1.50. 

"  Simply  one  of  the  most  charming  little  books  that  have  fallen  into  our  hands 
for  many  a  day.  There  is  just  enough  of  sadness  in  it  to  make  it  true  to  life,  while 
it  is  so  full  of  honest  work  and  whole-souled  fun,  paints  so  lively  a  picture  of  a  home 
in  which  contentment,  energy,  high  spirits,  and  real  goodness  make  up  for  the  lack 
of  money,  that  it  will  do  good  wherever  it  finds  its  way.  Few  will  read  it  without 
lasting  profit."  —  Hartford  Courant. 

"  LITTLB  WOMEN.  By  Louisa  M.  Alcott.  We  regard  these  volumes  as  two 
of  the  most  fascinating  that  ever  came  into  a  household.  Old  and  young  read  them 
with  the  same  eagerness.  Lifelike  in  all  their  delineations  of  time,  place,  and 
character,  they  are  not  only  intensely  interesting,  but  full  of  a  cheerful  morality, 
that  makes  them  healthy  reading  for  both  fireside  and  the  Sunday  school.  We 
think  we  love  "  Jo  "  a  little  .better  than  all  the  rest,  her  genius  is  so  happy  tem- 
pered with  affection." —  The  Guiding  Star. 

The  following  verbatim  copy  of  a  letter  from  a  "  little  woman  "  is  a  specimen 
of  many  which  enthusiasm  for  her  book  has  dictated  to  the  author  of  "  Little 
Women:"  — 

March  12,  1870. 

DKAR  Jo,  OR  Miss  ALCOTT,  —  We  have  all  been  reading  "  Little  Women,"  and 
we  liked  it  so  much  I  could  not  help  wanting  to  write  to  you.  We  think  you  are 
perfectly  splendid  ;  I  like  you  better  every  time  I  read  it.  We  were  all  so  disap- 
pointed about  your  not  marrying  Laurie  ;  I  cried  over  that  part,  —  I  could  not  help 
it.  We  all  liked  Laurie  ever  so  much,  and  almost  killed  ourselves  laughing  over 
the  funny  things  you  and  he  said. 

We  are  six  sisters  and  two  brothers ;  and  there  were  so  many  things  in  M  Little 
Women  "  that  seemed  so  natural,  especially  selling  the  rags. 

Eddie  is  the  oldest;  then  there  is  Annie  (our  Meg),  then  Nelly  (that's  me), 
May  and  Milly  (our  Beths),  Rosie,  Rollie,  and  dear  little  Carrie  (the  baby). 
Eddie  goes  away  to  school,  and  when  he  comes  home  for  the  holidays  we  have 
lots  of  fun,  playing  cricket,  croquet,  base  ball,  and  every  thing.  If  you  ever  want 
to  play  any  of  those  games,  just  come  to  our  house,  and  you  will  find  plenty  chil- 
dren to  play  with  you. 

If  you  ever  come  to ,  I  do  wish  you  would  come  and  see  us,  —  we  would 

like  it  so  much. 

I  have  named  my  doll  after  you,  and  I  hope  she  will  try  and  deserve  it. 

I  do  wish  you  would  send  me  a  picture  of  you.  I  hope  your  health  is  better, 
and  you  are  having  a  nice  time. 

If  you  write  to  me,  please  direct 111.     All  the  children  send  their  love. 

With  ever  so  much  love,  from  your  affectionate  friend, 

NELLY. 

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A 


N    OLD-FASHIONED    GIRL.      BY  LOUISA 
M.   ALCOTT.     With  Illustrations.    Price  $1.50. 


"Miss  Alcott  has  a  faculty  of  entering  into  the  lives  and  feelings  of  children 
that  is  conspicuously  wanting  in  most  writers  who  address  them ;  and  to  this  cause, 
to  the  consciousness  among  her  readers  that  they  are  hearing  about  people  like 
themselves,  instead  of  abstract  qualities  labelled  with  names,  the  popularity  of  her 
books  is  due.  Meg,  Jo,  Beth,  and  Amy  are  friends  in  every  nursery  and  school- 
room, and  even  in  the  parlor  and  office  they  are  not  unknown  ;  for  a  good  story  is 
interesting  to  older  folks  as  well,  and  Miss  Alcott  carries  on  her  children  to  man- 
hood and  womanhood,  and  leaves  them  only  on  the  wedding-day."  —  Mrs.  Sarah 
J.  Hale  in  Codecs  Ladies'  Book. 

"  We  are  glad  to  see  that  Miss  Alcott  is  becoming  naturalized  among  us  as  a 
writer,  and  cannot  help  congratulating  ourselves  on  having  done  something  to 
bring  about  the  result.  The  author  of  '  Little  Women '  is  so  manifestly  on  the 
side  of  all  that  is  '  lovely,  pure,  and  of  good  report '  in  the  life  of  women,  and 
writes  with  such  genuine  power  and  humor,  and  with  such  a  tender  charity  and 
sympathy,  that  we  hail  her  books  with  no  common  pleasure.  '  An  Old-Fashioned 
Girl '  is  a  protest  from  the  other  side  of  the  Atlantic  against  the  manners  of  the 
creature  which  we  know  on  this  by  the  name  of  '  the  Girl  of  the  Period ; '  but  the 
attack  is  delivered  with  delicacy  as  well  as  force."  —  The  London  Spectator. 

"  A  charming  little  book,  brimful  of  the  good  qualities  of  intellect  and  heart 
which  made  'Little  Women'  so  successful.  The  ' Old-Fashioned  Girl'  carries 
with  it  a  teaching  specially  needed  at  the  present  day,  and  we  are  glad  to  know  it 
is  even  already  a  decided  and  great  success."  —  New  York  Independent. 

"  Miss  Alcott's  new  story  deserves  quite  as-great  a  success  as  her  famous  "  Lit- 
tle Women,"  and  we  dare  say  will  secure  it.  She  has  written  a  book  which  child 
and  parent  alike  ought  to  read,  for  it  is  neither  above  the  comprehension  of  the  one, 
nor  below  the  taste  of  the  other.  Her  boys  and  girls  are  so  fresh,  hearty,  and  nat- 
ural, the  incidents  of  her  story  are  so  true  to  life,  and  the  tone  is  so  thoroughly 
healthy,  that  a  chapter  of  the  '  Old-Fashioned  Girl '  wakes  up  the  unartificial  better 
life  within  us  almost  as  effectually  as  an  hour  spent  in  the  company  of  good,  hon- 
est, sprightly  children.  The  Old-Fashioned  Girl,  Polly  Milton,  is  a  delightful 
creature  I  "  —  New  York  Tribunt. 

"  Gladly  we  welcome  the  '  Old-Fashioned  Girl '  to  heart  and  home  I  Joyfully 
•we  herald  her  progress  over  the  land  1  Hopefully  we  look  forward  to  the  time 
when  our  young  people,  following  her  example,  will  also  be  old-fashioned  in  purity 
of  heart  and  simplicity  of  life,  thus  brightening  like  a  sunbeam  the  atmosphere 
around  them."  —  Providence  Journal, 

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HOSPITAL  SKETCHES  AND   CAMP  AND 
FIRESIDE    STORIES.      By  LOUISA  M.  ALCOTT. 

With  Illustrations.    Price  $1.50. 

"  Miss  Alcott  performed  a  brief  tour  of  hospital  duty  during  the  late  ^rar.  Her 
career  as  nurse  was  terminated  by  an  attack  of  dangerous  illness.  But  she  made 
good  use  of  her  time,  and  her  sketches  of  hospital  life,  if  briefer  than  could  be 
wished,  make  up  in  quality  what  they  lack  in  quantity.  They  are,  indeed,  the  most 
graphic  and  natural  pictures  of  life  in  the  great  army  hospitals  that  have  yet 
appeared.  Free  from  all  affected  sentimentalises,  they  blend  in  a  strange  and 
piquant  manner  the  grave  and  gay,  the  lively  and  severe." — Phila.  Inquirer. 

"  It  is  a  book  which  is  thoroughly  enjoyable,  and  with  which  little  fault  need  be 
found.  It  is  not  a  pretentious  work,  and  the  author  has  only  aimed  at  telling  the 
story  of  her  experience  as  an  army  hospital  nurse,  in  an  easy,  natural  style  ;  but  the 
incidents  which  she  has  given  us  are  so  varied,  —  sometimes  amusingly  humorous 
and  sometimes  tenderly  pathetic,  —  and  her  narrative  is  so  simple  and  straight- 
forward and  truthful,  that  the  reader's  attention  is  chained,  and  he  finds  it  impos- 
sible to  resist  the  charm  of  the  pleasant,  kindly,  keen-sighted  Nurse  Perriwinkle."  — 
Round  Table. 

"  Such  is  the  title  of  a  volume  by  Miss  Louisa  M.  Alcott,  author  of '  Little 
Women,'  one  of  the  most  charming  productions  of  the  day.  Miss  Alcott  is  a  New 
England  woman  of  the  best  type,  —  gifted,  refined,  progressive  in  her  opinions, 
heroic,  self-sacrificing.  She  devoted  her  time  and  means  to  the  service  of  her 
country  in  the  darkest  days  of  the  Rebellion,  visiting  the  camp  and  the  hospital, 
devoting  herself  to  the  care  of  the  sick  and  the  dying,  braving  danger  and  privation 
in  the  sacred  cause  of  humanity.  The  results  of  her  experience  are  embodied  in 
these  *  Sketches,'  which  are  graphic  in  narrative,  rich  in  incident,  and  dramatic 
in  style.  Miss  Alcott  has  a  keen  sense  of  the  ludicrous,  and,  while  she  does  not 
trifle  with  her  subject,  seeks  to  amuse  as  well  as  instruct  her  reader.  She  has  the 
sunniest  of  tempers,  and  sees  a  humorous  side  even  to  the  sad  life  of  the  hospital." 
—  San  Francisco  Bulletin. 

"  This  volume  illustrates  excellently  well  the  characteristics  of  Miss  Alcott'i 
talent  as  a  novelist.  Her  subjects  are  always  portions  of  her  own  experience ;  her 
characters  always  the  people  she  has  known,  under  slight  disguises,  or  strangely 
metamorphosed,  as  may  happen,  but  easily  to  be  recognized  by  those  who  have 
the  key  to  them.  In  this  she  resembles  many  other  writers ;  but  there  is  a  pecu- 
liar blending  of  this  realism  with  extreme  idealization  in  most  of  her  stories.  She 
succeeds  best  — indeed,  she  only  tucceeds  at  all— in  her  real  pictures.  Her  de- 
scriptions are  as  faithful  and  as  varied  in  their  fidelity  as  life  itself,  so  long  as  she 
restricts  herself  to  what  she  has  actually  seen  and  known.  When  she  cleaves  to 
real  experiences,  she  is  sure  of  her  effect ;  and  her  success  is  always  greater  in 
proportion  to  the  depth  of  the  experience  she  has  to  portray.  For  this  reason 
we  have  always  thought  'Hospital  Sketches'  her  best  piece  of  work."  —  Spring- 
field Republican. 

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PINK   AND   WHITE   TYRANNY. 

BY  MRS.  HARRIET  BEECHER  STOWE, 

Author  of  "Uncle  Tom's  Cabin,"   "The  Minister's 
Wooing?  &*c. 

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This  vivid  and  pointed  novel  of  modern  society  presents  to  us  in  a  story, 
which  will  not  be  called  exaggerated,  some  of  those  phases  of  life  around  us  which 
are  none  the  less  dangerous  because  they  are  called  contemptible.  The  extrava- 
gance of  the  newly  rich,  who  have  never  learned  the  use  of  money,  and  the  failure 
of  the  substitutes  by  which  people  who  live  by  sensation  try  to  supply  the  place 
of  honor  and  religion,  have  never  been  portrayed  more  precisely.  At  the  same 
time  Mrs.  Stowe  does  justice  to  that  sex  which  is  not  enough  remembered  in  the 
discussion  of  the  wrongs  of  Woman.  For  she  describes,  as  no  one  else  can  de- 
scribe, the  tyranny  under  which  a  loyal  and  chivalrous  gentleman  suffers  most 
terribly.  The  pen,  which  more  than  any  other  quickened  the  public  heart  till  the 
black  slavery  of  centuries  was  broken,  will  render  a  service  not  less  considerable, 
if  it  so  wake  the  conscience  of  men  and  women  that  pink  and  white  tyranny  of 
women  over  men  shall  be  impossible. 

ROBERTS    BROTHERS,  Publishers, 

BOSTON. 


"  These  were  the  boys,  and  they  lived  together  as  happily  as  twelve  lads  could ; 
studying  and  playing,  working  and  squabbling,  fighting  faults  and  cultivating  virtues, 
in  the  good  old-fashioned  way."  —  PACK  28. 


LITTLE  MEN: 


LIFE  AT  PLUMF1ELD    WITS  JO'S  BOYS. 


BY 


LOUISA  M.  ALCOTT, 

AUTHOR  OF  "LITTLE  WOMEN,"   "AN  OLD-FASHIONED  GIRL," 
"HOSPITAL  SKETCHES." 


BOSTON: 

ROBERTS  BROTHERS. 
1871. 


Entered  according  to  Act  of  Congress,  in  the  year  1871,  by 

LOUISA    M.  ALCOTT, 

In  the  Office  of  the  Librarian  of  Congress  at  Washington. 


CAMBRIDGE  t 
PRESS  OF  JOHN  WILSON   AND  SON. 


TO 

FREDDY    AND  JOHNNY, 

Stye  Hittle  Jften 

TO    WHOM    SHE    OWES    SOME    OF    THE    BEST    AND    HAPPIEST 

HOURS    OF    HER    LIFE, 

THIS    BOOK    IS    GRATEFULLY    DEDICATED 
BY    THEIR    LOVING 

"AUNT   WEEDY." 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER  PAGE 

I.    NAT i 

II.     THE  BOYS 19 

III.  SUNDAY 29 

IV.  STEPPING-STONES 52 

V.     PATTY  PANS 66 

VI.     A  FIRE  BRAND 89 

VII.    NAUGHTY  NAN 113 

VIII.    PRANKS  AND  PLAYS 126 

IX.    DAISY'S  BALL 140 

X.     HOME  AGAIN 155 

XI.     UNCLE  TEDDY 176 

XII.     HUCKLEBERRIES 193 

XIII.  GOLDILOCKS 221 

XIV.  DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS 231 

XV.    IN  THE  WILLOW 255 

XVI.    TAMING  THE  COLT 277 

XVII.     COMPOSITION  DAY 289 

XVIII.     CROPS 305 

XIX.    JOHN  BROOKE 3'7 

XX.    ROUND  THE  FIRE 332 

XXI.    THANKSGIVING 357 


LITTLE   MEN: 

LIFE    AT    PLUMFIELD   WITH   JO'S    BOYS. 

CHAPTER   I. 

NAT. 

"  TpLEASE,  sir,  is  this  Plumfield  ?  "  asked  a  ragged 
JL      boy  of  the  man  who  opened  the  great  gate  at 
which  the  omnibus  left  him. 
"  Yes ;  who  sent  you  ?  " 

"  Mr.  Laurence.     I  have  got  a  letter  for  the  lady." 
"All  right;  go  up  to  the  house,  and  give  it  to  her; 
she  '11  see  to  you,  little  chap." 

The  man  spoke  pleasantly,  and  the  boy  went  on, 
feeling  much  cheered  by  the  words.  Through  the  soft 
spring  rain  that  fell  on  sprouting  grass  and  budding 
trees,  Nat  saw  a  large  square  house  before  him  —  a 
hospitable-looking  house,  with  an  old-fashioned  porch, 
wide  steps,  and  lights  shining  in  many  windows. 
Neither  curtains  nor  shutters  hid  the  cheerful  glimmer ; 
and,  pausing  a  moment  before  he  rang,  Nat  saw  many 
little  shadows  dancing  on  the  walls,  heard  the  pleasant 
hum  of  young  voices,  and  felt  that  it  was  hardly  possi- 
ble that  the  light  and  warmth  and  comfort  within  could 
be  for  a  homeless  "  little  chap  "  like  him. 


2  LITTLE  MEN. 

J* 
tt  I  hope  the  lady  wiu  see  to  me,"  he  thought ;  and 

gave  a  timid  rap  with  the  great  bronze  knocker,  which 
was  a  jovial  griffin's  head. 

A  rosy-faced  servant-maid  opened  the  door,  and 
smiled  as  she  took  the  letter  which  he  silently  offered. 
She  seemed  used  to  receiving  strange  boys,  for  she 
pointed  to  a  seat  in  the  hall,  and  said,  with  a  nod,  — 

"  Sit  there  and  drip  on  the  mat  a  bit,  while  I  take 
this  in  to  missis." 

Nat  found  plenty  to  amuse  him  while  he  waited,  and 
stared  about  him  curiously,  enjoying  the  view,  yet  glad 
to  do  so  unobserved  in  the  dusky  recess  by  the  door. 

The  house  seemed  swarming  with  boys,  who  were 
beguiling  the  rainy  twilight  with  all  sorts  of  amuse- 
ments. There  were  boys  everywhere,  "up-stairs  and 
down-stairs  and  in  the  lady's  chamber,"  apparently,  for 
various  open  doors  showed  pleasant  groups  of  big  boys, 
little  boys,  and  middle-sized  boys  in  all  stages  of  even- 
ing relaxation,  not  to  say  effervescence.  Two  large 
rooms  on  the  right  were  evidently  school-rooms,  for 
desks,  maps,  blackboards,  and  books  were  scattered 
about.  An  open  fire  burned  on  the  hearth,  and  several 
indolent  lads  layt  on  their  backs  before  it,  discussing  a 
new  cricket-ground,  with  such  animation  that  their 
boots  waved  in  the  air.  A  tall  youth  was  practising 
on  the  flute  in  one  corner,  quite  undisturbed  by  the 
racket  all  about  him.  Two  or  three  others  were  jump- 
ing over  the  desks,  pausing,  now  and  then,  to  get  their 
breath,  and  laugh  at  the  droll  sketches  of  a  little  wag 
who  was  caricaturing  the  whole  household  on  a  black- 
board. 

In  the  room  OH  the  left  a  long  supper-table  was  seen, 


NAT.  3 

set  forth  with  great  pitchers  of  new  milk,  piles  of  brown 
and  white  bread,  and  perfect  stacks  of  the  shiny  ginger- 
bread so  dear  to  boyish  souls.  A  flavor  of  toast  was  in 
the  air,  also  suggestions  of  baked  appfes,  very  tantaliz- 
ing to  one  hungry  little  nose  and  stomach. 

The  hall,  however,  presented  the  most  inviting  pros- 
pect of  all,  for  a  brisk  game  of  tag  was  going  on  in  the 
upper  entry.  One  landing  was  devoted  to  marbles,  the 
other  to  checkers,  while  the  stairs  were  occupied  by  a 
boy  reading,  a  girl  singing  lullaby  to  her  doll,  two  pup- 
pies, a  kitten,  and  a  constant  succession  of  small  boys 
sliding  down  the  banisters,  to  the  great  detriment  of 
their  clothes,  and  danger  to  their  limbs. 

So  absorbed  did  Nat  become  in  this  exciting  race, 
that  he  ventured  farther  and  farther  out  of  his  corner ; 
and  when  one  very  lively  boy  came  down  so  swiftly 
that  he  could  not  stop  himself,  but  fell  off  the  banis- 
ters, with  a  crash  that  would  have  broken  any  head 
but  one  rendered  nearly  as  hard  as  a  cannon-ball  by 
eleven  years  of  constant  bumping,  Nat  forgot  himself, 
and  ran  up  to  the  fallen  rider,  expecting  to  find  him 
half-dead.  The  boy,  however,  only  winked  rapidly  for 
a  second,  then  lay  calmly  looking  up  at  the  new  face 
with  a  surprised  "  Hullo !  " 

"  Hullo ! "  returned  Nat,  not  knowing  what  else  to 
say,  and  thinking  that  form  of  reply  both  brief  and 
easy. 

"  Are  you  a  new  boy  ?  "  asked  the  recumbent  youth, 
without  stirring. 

"  Don't  know  yet." 

"What's  your  name?" 

"Nat -Blake." 


4  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Mine 's  Tommy  Bangs ;  come  up  and  have  a  go, 
will  you  ?  "  and  Tommy  got  upon  his  legs  like  one  sud- 
denly remembering  the  duties  of  hospitality. 

"  Guess  I  won't,  till  I  see  whether  I  'm  going  to  stay 
or  not,"  returned  Nat,  feeling  the  desire  to  stay  increase 
every  moment. 

"  I  say,  Demi,  here 's  a  new  one.  Come  and  see  to 
him;"  and  the  lively  Thomas  returned  to  his  sport 
with  unabated  relish. 

At  his  call,  the  boy  reading  on  the  stairs  looked  up 
with  a  pair  of  big  brown  eyes,  and  after  an  instant's 
pause,  as  if  a  little  shy,  he  put  the  book  under  his  arm, 
and  came  soberly  down  to  greet  the  new-comer,  who 
found  something  very  attractive  in  the  pleasant  face  of 
this  slender,  mild-eyed  boy. 

"  Have  you  seen  Aunt  Jo  ?  "  he  asked,  as  if  that  was 
some  sort  of  important  ceremony. 

"I  haven't  seen  anybody  yet  but  you  boys;  I'm 
waiting,"  answered  Nat. 

"Did  Uncle  Laurie  send  you?"  proceeded  Demi, 
politely,  but  gravely. 

"Mr.  Laurence  did." 

"He  is  Uncle  Laurie;  and  he  always  sends  nice 
boys." 

Nat  looked  gratified  at  the  remark,  and  smiled,  in  a 
way  that  made  his  thin  face  very  pleasant.  He  did  not 
know  what  to  say  next,  so  the  two  stood  staring  at  one 
another  in  friendly  silence,  till  the  little  girl  came  up 
with  her  doll  in  her  arms.  She  was  very  like  Demi, 
only  not  so  tall,  and  had  a  rounder,  rosier  face,  and 
blue  eyes. 

"  This  is  my  sister  Daisy,"  announced  Demi,  as  if 
presenting  a  rare  and  precious  creature. 


NAT.  5 

The  children  nodded  to  one  another ;  and  the  little 
girl's  face  dimpled  with  pleasure,  as  she  said,  affably,  — 

"  I  hope  you  '11  stay.  We  have  such  good  times 
here ;  don't  we,  Demi  ?  " 

"  Of  course,  we  do ;  that 's  what  Aunt  Jo  has  Plum- 
field  for." 

"  It  seems  a  very  nice  place  indeed,"  observed  Nat, 
feeling  that  he  must  respond  to  these  amiable  young 
persons. 

"  It 's  the  nicest  place  in  the  world ;  isn't  it,  Demi  ?  " 
said  Daisy,  who  evidently  regarded  her  brother  as 
authority  on  all  subjects. 

"  No ;  I  think  Greenland,  where  the  icebergs  and 
seals  are,  is  more  interesting.  But  I  'm  fond  of  Plum- 
field,  and  it  is  a  very  nice  place  to  be  in,"  returned 
Demi,  who  was  interested  just  now  in  a  book  on  Green- 
land. He  was  about  to  offer  to  show  Nat  the  pictures 
and  explain  them,  when  the  servant  returned,  saying, 
with  a  nod  toward  the  parlor-door,  — 

"All  right ;  you  are  to  stop." 

"  I  'm  glad ;  now  come  to  Aunt  Jo."  And  Daisy 
took  him  by  the  hand  with  a  pretty  protecting  air, 
which  made  Nat  feel  at  home  at  once. 

Demi  returned  to  his  beloved  book,  while  his  sister 
led  the  new-comer  into  a  back  room,  where  a  stout  gen- 
tleman was  frolicking  with  two  little  boys  on  the  sofa, 
and  a  thin  lady  was  just  finishing  the  letter  which  she 
seemed  to  have  been  re-reading. 

"  Here  he  is,  Aunty ! "  cried  Daisy. 

"  So  this  is  my  new  boy  ?  I  am  glad  to  see  you,  my 
dear,  and  hope  you'll  be  happy  here,"  said  the  lady, 
drawing  him  to  her,  and  stroking  back  the  hair  from 


6  LITTLE  MEN. 

his  forehead  with  a  kind  hand  and  a  motherly  look, 
which  made  Nat's  lonely  little  heart  yearn  toward  her. 

She  was  not  at  all  handsome,  but  she  had  a  merry 
sort  of  face,  that  never  seemed  to  have  forgotten  cer- 
tain childish  ways  and  looks,  any  more  than  her  voice 
and  manner  had;  and  these  things,  hard  to  describe 
but  very  plain  to  see  and  feel,  made  her  a  genial,  com- 
fortable kind  of  person,  easy  to  get  on  with,  and  gener- 
ally "jolly,"  as  boys  would  say.  She  saw  the  little 
tremble  of  Nat's  lips  as  she  smoothed  his  hair,  and  her 
keen  eyes  grew  softer,  but  she  only  drew  the  shabby 
figure  nearer  and  said,  laughing, — 

"I  am  Mother  Bhaer,  that  gentleman  is  Father 
Bhaer,  and  these  are  the  two  little  Bhaers.  —  Come 
here,  boys,  and  see  Nat." 

The  three  wrestlers  obeyed  at  once;  and  the  stout 
man,  with  a  chubby  child  on  each  shoulder,  came  up  to 
welcome  the  new  boy.  Rob  and  Teddy  merely  grinned 
at  him,  but  Mr.  Bhaer  shook  hands,  and  pointing  to  a 
low  chair  near  the  fire,  said,  in  a  cordial  voice,  — 

"  There  is  a  place  all  ready  for  thee,  my  son ;  sit 
down  and  dry  thy  wet  feet  at  once." 

"  Wet?  so  they  are !  My  dear,  off  with  your  shoes 
this  minute,  and  I  '11  have  some  dry  things  ready  for 
you  in  a  jiffy,"  cried  Mrs.  Bhaer,  bustling  about  so 
energetically,  that  Nat  found  himself  in  the  cosy  little 
chair,  with  dry  socks  and  warm  slippers  on  his  feet, 
before  he  would  have  had  time  to  say  Jack  Robinson, 
if  he  had  wanted  to  try.  He  said  "  Thank  you,  ma'am," 
instead;  and  said  it  so  gratefully,  that  Mrs.  Bhaer's 
eyes  grew  soft  again,  and  she  said  something  merry, 
because  she  felt  so  tender,  which  was  a  way  she  had. 


NAT.  7 

a  These  are  Tommy  Bang's  slippers ;  but  he  never 
will  remember  to  put  them  on  in  the  house ;  so  he  shall 
not  have  them.  They  are  too  big ;  but  that 's  all  the 
better ;  you  can't  run  away  from  us  so  fast  as  if  they 
fitted." 

"I  don't  want  to  run  away,  ma'am."  And  Nat 
spread  his  grimy  li ttle  hands  before  the  comfortable 
blaze,  with  a  long  sigh  of  satisfaction. 

"  That's  good !  Now  I  am  going  to  toast  you  well, 
and  try  to  get  rid  of  that  ugly  cough.  How  long  have 
you  had  it,  dear  ?  "  asked  Mrs.  Bhaer,  as  she  rummaged 
in  her  big  basket  for  a  strip  of  flannel. 

"All  winter.  I  got  cold,  and  it  wouldn't ~get  better, 
somehow." 

"  No  wonder,  living  in  that  damp  cellar  with  hardly 
a  rag  to  his  poor  dear  back ! "  said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  in  a 
low  tone  to  her  husband,  who  was  looking  at  the  boy 
with  a  skilful  pair  of  eyes,  that  marked  the  thin  temples 
and  feverish  lips,  as  well  as  the  hoarse  voice  and 
frequent  fits  of  coughing  that  shook  the  bent  shoulders 
under  the  patched  jacket. 

"  Robin,  my  man,  trot  up  to  Nursey,  and  tell  her  to 
give  thee  the  cough-bottle  and  the  liniment,"  said  Mr. 
Bhaer,  after  his  eyes  had  exchanged  telegrams  with  his 
wife's. 

Nat  looked  a  little  anxious  at  the  preparations,  but 
forgot  his  fears,  in  a  hearty  laugh,  when  Mrs.  Bhaer 
whispered  to  him,  with  a  droll  look,  — 

"  Hear  my  rogue  Teddy  try  to  cough.  The  syrup 
I  'm  going  to  give  you  has  honey  in  it ;  and  he  wants 
some." 

Little  Ted  was  red  in  the  face  with  his  exertions  by 


8  LITTLE  MEN. 

the  time  the  bottle  came,  and  was  allowed  to  suck  the 
spoon,  after  Nat  had  manfully  taken  a  dose,  and  had 
the  bit  of  flannel  put  about  his  throat. 

These  first  steps  toward  a  cure  were  hardly  com- 
pleted, when  a  great  bell  rang,  and  a  loud  tramping 
through  the  hall  announced  supper.  Bashful  Nat 
quaked  at  the  thought  of  meeting  many  strange  boys, 
but  Mrs.  Bhaer  held  out  her  hand  to  him,  and  Rob  said, 
patronizingly,  "Don't  be  'fraid;  I'll  take  care  of  you." 

Twelve  boys,  six  on  a  side,  stood  behind  their  chairs, 
prancing  with  impatience  to  begin,  while  the  tall  flute- 
playing  youth  was  trying  to  curb  their  ardor.  But  no 
one  sat  down,  till  Mrs.  Bhaer  was  in  her  place  behind 
the  teapot,  with  Teddy  on  her  left,  and  Nat  on  her 
right. 

"  This  is  our  new  boy,  Nat  Blake.  After  supper  you 
can  say,  How  do  you  do  ?  Gently,  boys,  gently." 

As  she  spoke  every  one  stared  at  Nat,  and  then 
whisked  into  their  seats,  trying  to  be  orderly,  and  fail- 
ing utterly.  The  Bhaers  did  their  best  to  have  the  lads 
benave  well  at  meal  times,  and  generally  succeeded 
pretty  well,  for  their  rules  were  few  and  sensible,  and 
the  boys,  knowing  that  they  tried  to  make  things  easy 
and  happy,  did  their  best  to  obey.  But  there  are  times 
when  hungry  boys  cannot  be  repressed  without  real 
cruelty,  and  Saturday  evening,  after  a  half-holiday,  was 
one  of  those  times. 

"  Dear  little  souls,  do  let  them  have  one  day  in  which 
they  can  howl  and  racket  and  frolic,  to  then*  hearts' 
content.  A  holiday  isn't  a  holiday,  without  plenty  of 
freedom  and  fun ;  and  they  shall  have  full  swing  once 
a  week,"  Mrs.  Bhaer  used  to  say,  when  prim  people 


NAT.  9 

wondered  why  banister-sliding,  pillow-fights,  and  all 
manner  of  jovial  games  were  allowed  under  the  once 
decorous  roof  of  Plumfield. 

It  did  seem  at  times  as  if  the  aforesaid  roof  was  in 
danger  of  flying  off;  but  it  never  did,  for  a  word  from 
Father  Bhaer  could  at  any  time  produce  a  lull,  and  the 
lads  had  learned  that  liberty  must  not  be  abused.  So, 
in  spite  of  many  dark  predictions,  the  school  flourished, 
and  manners  and  morals  were  insinuated,  without  the 
pupils  exactly  knowing  how  it  was  done.  « 

Nat  found  himself  very  well  off  behind  the  tall 
pitchers,  with  Tommy  Bangs  just  round  the  corner,  and 
Mrs.  Bhaer  close  by,  to  fill  up  plate  and  mug  as  fast  as 
he  could  empty  them. 

"  Who  is  that  boy  next  the  girl  down  at  the  other 
end?"  whispered  Nat  to  his  young  neighbor  under 
cover  of  a  general  laugh. 

"  That 's  Demi  Brooke.    Mr.  Bhaer  is  his  uncle." 

"  What  a  queer  name  ! " 

"  His  real  name  is  John,  but  they  call  him  Demi-John, 
because  his  father  is  John  too.  That's  a  joke,  don't 
you  see?"  said  Tommy,  kindly  explaining.  Nat  did 
not  see,  but  politely  smiled,  and  asked,  with  interest,  — 

"  Isn't  he  a  very  nice  boy  ?  " 

"  I  bet  you  he  is ;  knows  lots  and  reads  like  any 
thing." 

«  Who  is  the  fat  one  next  him  ?  " 

"Oh,  that's  Stuffy  Cole.  His  name  is  George,  but 
we  call  him  Stuffy  'cause  he  eats  so  much.  The  little 
fellow  next  Father  Bhaer  is  his  boy  Rob,  and  then 
there 's  big  Franz  his  nephew ;  he  teaches  some,  and 
kind  of  sees  to  us." 


10  LITTLE  MEN. 

«  He  plays  the  flute, doesn't  he?"  asked  Nat  as  Tom- 
my rendered  himself  speechless  by  putting  a  whole 
baked  apple  into  his  mouth  at  one  blow. 

Tommy  nodded,  and  said,  sooner  than  one  would 
have  imagined  possible  under  the  circumstances,  "  Oh, 
don't  he,  though?  and  we  dance  sometimes,  and  do 
gymnastics  to  music.  I  like  a  drum  myself  and  mean 
to  learn  as  soon  as  ever  I  can." 

"  I  like  a  fiddle  best ;  I  can  play  one  too,"  said  Nat, 
getting  confidential  on  this  attractive  subject. 

"  Can  you  ?  "  and  Tommy  stared  over  the  rim  of  his 
mug  with  round  eyes,  full  of  interest.  "  Mr.  Bhaer  's 
got  an  old  fiddle,  and  he  '11  let  you  play  on  it  if  you 
want  to." 

"  Could  I  ?  Oh,  I  would  like  it  ever  so  much.  You 
see  I  used  to  go  round  fiddling  with  my  father,  and  an- 
other man,  till  he  died." 

"  Wasn't  that  fun  ?  "  cried  Tommy,  much  impressed. 

"  No,  it  was  horrid ;  so  cold  in  winter,  and  hot  in 
summer.  And  I  got  tired ;  and  they  were  cross  some- 
tunes  ;  and  I  didn't  have  enough  to  eat."  Nat  paused 
to  take  a  generous  bite  of  gingerbread,  as  if  to  assure 
himself  that  the  hard  tunes  were  over ;  and  then  he 
added  regretfully,  — "  But  I  did  love  my  little  fiddle, 
and  I  miss  it.  Nicolo  took  it  away  when  father  died, 
and  wouldn't  have  me  any  longer,  'cause  I  was  sick." 

"  You'll  belong  to  the  band  if  you  play  good.  See  if 
you  don't." 

"Do  you  have  a  band  here?"  And  Nat's  eyes 
sparkled. 

"  Guess  we  do ;  a  jolly  band,  all  boys ;  and  they  have 
concerts  and  things.  You  just  see  what  happens  to- 
morrow night." 


NAT.  11 

After  this  pleasantly  exciting  remark,  Tommy  re- 
turned to  his  supper,  and  Nat  sank  into  a  blissful 
reverie  over  his  full  plate. 

Mrs.  Bhaer  had  heard  all  they  said,  while  apparently 
absorbed  in  filling  mugs,  and  overseeing  little  Ted,  who 
was  so  sleepy  that  he  put  his  spoon  in  his  eye,  nodded 
like  a  rosy  poppy,  and  finally  fell  fast  asleep,  with  his 
cheek  pillowed  on  a  soft  bun.  Mrs.  Bhaer  had  put  Nat 
next  to  Tommy,  because  that  roly-poly  boy  had  a  frank 
and  social  way  with  him,  very  attractive  to  shy  persons. 
Nat  felt  this,  and  had  made  several  small  confidences 
during  supper,  which  gave  Mrs.  Bhaer  the  key  to  the 
new  boy's  character,  better  than  if  she  had  talked  to 
him  herself. 

In  the  letter  which  Mr.  Laurence  had  sent  with  Nat, 
he  had  said  — 

"  DEAR  Jo,  —  Here  is  a  case  after  your  own  heart. 
This  poor  lad  is  an  orphan  now,  sick  and  friendless. 
He  has  been  a  street-musician ;  and  I  found  him  in  a 
cellar,  mourning  for  his  dead  father,  and  his  lost  violin. 
I  think  there  is  something  in  him,  and  have  a  fancy  that 
between  us  we  may  give  this  little  man  a  lift.  You 
cure  his  overtasked  body,  Fritz  help  his  neglected  mind, 
and  when  he  is  ready  I  '11  see  if  he  is  a  genius  or  only  a 
boy  with  a  talent  which  may  earn  his  bread  for  him. 
Give  him  a  trial,  for  the  sake  of  your  own  boy, 

"  TEDDY." 

"  Of  course  we  will !  "  cried  Mrs.  Bhaer,  as  she  read 
the  letter ;  and  when  she  saw  Nat,  she  felt  at  once  that 
whether  he  was  a  genius  or  not,  here  was  a  lonely,  sick 


12  LITTLE  MEN. 

boy,  who  needed  just  what  she  loved  to  give,  a  home, 
and  motherly  care.  Both  she  and  Mr.  Bhaer  observed 
him  quietly ;  and  in  spite  of  ragged  clothes,  awkward 
manners,  and  a  dirty  face,  they  saw  much  about  Nat 
that  pleased  them.  He  was  a  thin,  pale  boy,  of  twelve, 
with  blue  eyes,  and  a  good  forehead  under  the  rough, 
neglected  hair ;  an  anxious,  scared  face,  at  times,  as  if 
he  expected  hard  words,  or  blows;  and  a  sensitive 
mouth,  that  trembled  when  a  kind  glance  fell  on  him ; 
while  a  gentle  speech  called  up  a  look  of  gratitude, 
very  sweet  to  see.  "  Bless  the  poor  dear,  he  shall  fiddle 
all  day  long  if  he  likes,"  said  Mrs.  Bhaer  to  herself,  as 
she  saw  the  eager,  happy  expression  on  his  face  when 
Tommy  talked  of  the  band. 

So,  after  supper,  when  the  lads  flocked  into  the 
school-room  for  more  "  high  jinks,"  Mrs.  Jo  appeared 
with  a  violin  in  her  hand,  and  after  a  word  with  her 
husband,  went  to  Nat,  who  sat  in  a  comer  watching 
the  scene  with  intense  interest. 

"Now,  my  lad,  give  us  a  little  tune.  We  want  a 
violin  in  our  band,  and  I  think  you  will  do  it  nicely." 

She  expected  that  he  would  hesitate  ;  but  he  seized 
the  old  fiddle  at  once,  and  handled  it  with  such  loving 
care,  it  was  plain  to  see  that  music  was  his  passion. 

"  I  '11  do  the  best  I  can,  ma'am,"  was  all  he  said ;  and 
then  drew  the  bow  across  the  strings,  as  if  eager  to 
hear  the  dear  notes  again. 

There  was  a  great  clatter  in  the  room,  but  as  if  deaf 
to  any  sounds  but  those  he  made,  Nat  played  softly  to 
himself  forgetting  every  thing  in  his  delight.  It  was 
only  a  simple  negro  melody,  such  as  street-musicians 
play,  but  it  caught  the  ears  of  the  boys  at  once,  and 


NAT. 

«'  It  was  the  proudest,  happiest  minute  of  the  poor  boy's  life,  when  he  was  led 
to  the  place  of  honor  by  the  piano."  —  PACK  13. 


NAT.  13 

silenced  them,  till  they  stood  listening  with  surprise 
and  pleasure.  Gradually  they  got  nearer  and  nearer, 
and  Mr.  Bhaer  came  up  to  watch  the  boy ;  for,  as  if  he 
was  in  his  element  now,  Nat  played  away  and  never 
minded  any  one,  while  his  eyes  shone,  his  cheeks  red- 
dened, and  his  thin  fingers  flew,  as  he  hugged  the  old 
fiddle  and  made  it  speak  to  all  their  hearts  the  language 
that  he  loved. 

A  hearty  round  of  applause  rewarded  him  better  than 
a  shower  of  pennies,  when  he  stopped  and  glanced 
about  him,  as  if  to  say  — 

"  I  've  done  my  best ;  please  like  it." 

"  I  say,  you  do  that  first  rate,"  cried  Tommy,  who 
considered  Nat  his  protege. 

"  You  shall  be  first  fiddle  in  my  band,"  added  Franz, 
with  an  approving  smile. 

Mrs.  Bhaer  whispered  to  her  husband  — 

"  Teddy  is  right :  there's  something  in  the  child." 
And  Mr.  Bhaer  nodded  his  head  emphatically,  as  he 
clapped  Nat  on  the  shoulder,  saying,  heartily  — 

"  You  play  well,  my  son.  Come  now  and  play  some- 
thing which  we  can  sing." 

It  was  the  proudest,  happiest  minute  of  the  poor 
boy's  life  when  he  was  led  to  the  place  of  honor  by  the 
piano,  and  the  lads  gathered  round,  never  heeding  his 
poor  clothes,  but  eying  him  respectfully,  and  waiting 
eagerly  to  hear  him  play  again. 

They  chose  a  song  he  knew ;  and  after  one  or  two 
false  starts  they  got  going,  and  violin,  flute,  and  piano 
led  a  chorus  of  boyish  voices  that  made  the  old  roof 
ring  again.  It  was  too  much  for  Nat,  more  feeble  than 
he  knew ;  and  as  the  final  shout  died  away,  his  face 


14  LITTLE  MEN. 

began  to  work,  he  dropped  the  fiddle,  and  turning  to 
the  wall,  sobbed  like  a  little  child. 

"  My  dear,  what  is  it  ?  "  asked  Mrs.  Bhaer,  who  had 
been  singing  with  all  her  might,  and  trying  to  keep 
little  Rob  from  beating  time  with  his  boots. 

"You  are  all  so  kind  —  and  it's  so  beautiful  —  I  can't 
help  it,"  sobbed  Nat,  coughing  till  he  was  breathless. 

"  Come  with  me,  dear ;  you  must  go  to  bed  and  rest ; 
you  are  worn  out,  and  this  is  too  noisy  a  place  for  you," 
whispered  Mrs.  Bhaer ;  and  took  him  away  to  her  own 
parlor,  where  she  let  him  cry  himself  quiet. 

Then  she  won  him  to  tell  her  all  his  troubles,  and 
listened  to  the  little  story  with  tears  in  her  own  eyes, 
though  it  was  not  a  new  one  to  her. 

"My  child,  you  have  got  a  father  and  a  mother  now, 
and  this  is  home.  Don't  think  of  those  sad  times  any 
more,  but  get  well  and  happy ;  and  be  sure  you  shall 
never  suffer  again,  if  we  can  help  it.  This  place  is 
made  for  all  sorts  of  boys  to  have  a  good  time  in,  and 
to  learn  bow  to  help  themselves  and  be  useful  men,  I 
hope.  You  shall  have  as  much  music  as  you  want, 
only  you  must  get  strong  first.  Now  come  up  to 
Nursey  and  have  a  bath,  and  then  go  to  bed,  and  to- 
morrow we  will  lay  some  nice  little  plans  together." 

Nat  held  her  hand  fast  in  his,  but  had  not  a  word  to 
say,  and  let  his  grateful  eyes  speak  for  him,  as  Mrs. 
Bhaer  led  him  up  to  a  big  room,  where  they  found  a 
stout  German  woman  with  a  face  so  round  and  cheery, 
that  it  looked  like  a  sort  of  sun,  with  the  wide  frill  of 
her  cap  for  rays. 

"  This  is  Nursey  Hummel,  and  she  will  give  you  a 
nice  bath,  and  cut  your  hair,  and  make  you  all  '  comfy,' 


NAT.  15 

as  Rob  says.  That's  the  bath-room  in  there;  and  on 
Saturday  nights  we  scrub  all  the  little  lads  first,  and 
pack  them  away  in  bed  before  the  big  ones  get  through 
singing.  Now  then,  Rob,  in  with  you." 

As  she  talked,  Mrs.  Bhaer  had  whipped  off  Rob's 
clothes  and  popped  him  into  a  long  bath-tub  in  the 
little  room  opening  into  the  nursery. 

There  were  two  tubs,  besides  foot-baths,  basins, 
douche-pipes,  and  all  manner  of  contrivances  for  clean- 
liness. Nat  was  soon  luxuriating  in  the  other  bath ; 
and  while  simmering  there,  he  watched  the  perform- 
ances of  the  two  women,  who  scrubbed,  clean  night- 
gowned,  and  bundled  into  bed  four  or  five  small  boys, 
who,  of  course,  cut  up  all  sorts  of  capers  during  the 
operation,  and  kept  every  one  in  a  gale  of  merriment 
till  they  were  extinguished  in  their  beds. 

By  the  time  Nat  was  washed  and  done  up  in  a 
blanket  by  the  fire,  while  Nursey  cut  his  hair,  a  new 
detachment  of  boys  arrived  and  were  shut  into  the 
bath-room,  where  they  made  as  much  splashing  and 
noise  as  a  school  of  young  whales  at  play. 

"Nat  had  better  sleep  here,  so  that  if  his  cough 
troubles  him  in  the  night  you  can  see  that  he  takes  a 
good  draught  of  flax-seed  tea,"  said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  who 
was  flying  about  like  a  distracted  hen  with  a  large 
brood  of  lively  ducklings. 

Nursey  approved  the  plan,  finished  Nat  off  with  a 
flannel  night-gown,  a  drink  of  something  warm  and 
sweet,  and  then  tucked  him  into  one  of  the  three  little 
beds  standing  in  the  room,  where  he  lay  looking  like  a 
contented  mummy,  and  feeling  that  nothing  more  in 
the  way  of  luxury  could  be  offered  him.  Cleanliness 


16  LITTLE  MEN. 

in  itself  was  a  new  and  delightful  sensation;  flannel 
gowns  were  unknown  comforts  in  his  world;  sips  of 
"good  stuff"  soothed  his  cough  as  pleasantly  as  kind 
words  did  his  lonely  heart ;  and  the  feeling  that  some- 
body cared  for  him  made  that  plain  room  seem  a  sort 
of  heaven  to  the  homeless  child.  It  was  like  a  cosy 
dream ;  and  he  often  shut  his  eyes  to  see  if  it  would 
not  vanish  when  he  opened  them  again.  It  was  too 
pleasant  to  let  him  sleep,  and  he  could  not  have  done 
so  if  he  had  tried,  for  in  a  few  minutes  one  of  the 
peculiar  institutions  of  Plumfield  was  revealed  to  his 
astonished  but  appreciative  eyes. 

A  momentary  lull  in  the  aquatic  exercises  was  fol- 
lowed by  the  sudden  appearance  of  pillows  flying  in  all 
directions,  hurled  by  white  goblins,  who  came  rioting 
out  of  their  beds.  The  battle  raged  in  several  rooms, 
all  down  the  upper  hall,  and  even  surged  at  intervals 
into  the  nursery,  when  some  hard-pressed  warrior  took 
refuge  there.  No  one  seemed  to  mind  this  explosion 
in  the  least;  no  one  forbade  it,  or  even  looked  sur- 
prised. Nursey  went  on  hanging  up  towels,  and  Mrs. 
Bhaer  looked  out  clean  clothes,  as  calmly  as  if  the 
most  perfect  order  reigned.  Kay,  she  even  chased  one 
daring  boy  out  of  the  room,  and  fired  after  him  the 
pillow  he  had  slyly  thrown  at  her. 

"  Won't  they  hurt  'em  ?  "  asked  Nat,  who  lay  laugh- 
ing with  all  his  might. 

"Oh  dear,  no!  we  always  allow  one  pillow-fight 
Saturday  night.  The  cases  are  changed  to-morrow; 
and  it  gets  up  a  glow  after  the  boys'  baths ;  so  I  rather 
like  it  myself,"  said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  busy  again  among  her 
dozen  pairs  of  socks. 


NAT.  17 

"What  a  very  nice  school  this  is!"  observed  Nat, 
in  a  burst  of  admiration. 

"It's  an  odd  one,"  laughed  Mrs.  Bhaer;  "but  you 
see  we  don't  believe  in  making  children  miserable  by 
too  many  rules,  and  too  much  study.  I  forbade  night- 
gown parties  at  first ;  but,  bless  you,  it  was  of  no  use. 
I  could  no  more  keep  those  boys  in  their  beds,  than  so 
many  jacks  in  the  box.  So  I  made  an  agreement  with 
them:  I  was  to  allow  a  fifteen-minute  pillow-fight, 
every  Saturday  night ;  and  they  promised  to  go  prop- 
erly to  bed,  every  other  night.  I  tried  it,  and  it  worked 
well.  If  they  don't  keep  their  word,  no  frolic ;  if  they 
do,  I  just  turn  the  glasses  round,  put  the  lamps  in  safe 
places,  and  let  them  rampage  as  much  as  they  like." 

"It's  a  beautiful  plan,"  said  Nat,  feeling  that  he 
should  like  to  join  in  the  fray,  but  not  venturing  to 
propose  it  the  first  night.  So  he  lay  enjoying  the 
spectacle,  which  certainly  was  a  lively  one. 

Tommy  Bangs  led  the  assailing  party,  and  Demi 
defended  his  own  room  with  a  dogged  courage,  fine  to 
see,  collecting  pillows  behind  him  as  fast  as  they  were 
thrown,  till  the  besiegers  were  out  of  ammunition, 
when  they  would  charge  upon  him  in  a  body,  and 
recover  their  arms.  A  few  slight  accidents  occurred, 
but  nobody  minded,  and  gave  and  took  sounding 
thwacks  with  perfect  good  humor,  while  pillows  flew 
like  big  snow  flakes,  till  Mrs.  Bhaer  looked  at  her 
watch,  and  called  out  — 

"  Time  is  up,  boys.  Into  bed,  every  man  Jack,  or 
pay  the  forfeit!" 

"  What  is  the  forfeit  ?  "  asked  Nat,  sitting  up  in  his 
eagerness  to  know  what  happened  to  those  wretches  who 


18  LITTLE  MEN. 

disobeyed  this  most  peculiar,  but  public-spirited  school- 
ma'am. 

"Lose  their  fun  next  time,"  answered  Mrs.  Bhaer. 
"  I  give  them  five  minutes  to  settle  down,  then  put  out 
the  lights,  and  expect  order.  They  are  honorable  lads, 
and  they  keep  their  word." 

That  was  evident,  for  the  battle  ended  as  abruptly  as 
it  began  —  a  parting  shot  or  two,  a  final  cheer,  as  Demi 
fired  the  seventh  pillow  at  the  retiring  foe,  a  few  chal- 
lenges for  next  time,  then  order  prevailed ;  and  nothing 
but  an  occasional  giggle,  or  a  suppressed  whisper,  broke 
the  quiet  which  followed  the  Saturday-night  frolic,  as 
Mother  Bhaer  kissed  her  new  boy,  and  left  him  to  happy 
dreams  of  life  at  Plumfield. 


CHAPTER    II. 

THE  BOYS. 

WHILE  Nat  takes  a  good  long  sleep,  I  will  tell  m^ 
little  readers  something  about  the  boys,  among 
whom  he  found  himself  when  he  woke  up. 

To  begin  with  our  old  friends.  Franz  was  a  tall  lad, 
of  sixteen  now,  a  regular  German,  big,  blond,  and  book- 
ish, also  very  domestic,  amiable,  and  musical.  His 
uncle  was  fitting  him  for  college,  and  his  aunt  for  a 
happy  home  of  his  own  hereafter,  because  she  carefully 
fostered  in  him  gentle  manners,  love  of  children,  respect 
for  women,  old  and  young,  and  helpful  ways  about  the 
house.  He  was  her  right-hand  man  on  all  occasions, 
steady,  kind,  and  patient ;  and  he  loved  his  merry  aunt 
like  a  mother,  for  such  she  had  tried  to  be  to  him. 

Emil  was  quite  different,  being  quick-tempered,  rest- 
less, and  enterprising,  bent  on  going  to  sea,  for  the 
blood  of  the  old  vikings  stirred  in  his  veins,  and  could 
not  be  tamed.  His  uncle  promised  that  he  should  go 
when  he  was  sixteen,  and  set  him  to  studying  naviga- 
tion, gave  him  stories  of  good  and  famous  admirals  and 
heroes  to  read,  and  let  him  lead  the  life  of  a  frog  in 
river,  pond,  and  brook,  when  lessons  were  done.  His 
room  looked  like  the  cabin  of  a  man-of-war,  for  every 


20  LITTLE  MEN. 

thing  was  nautical,  military,  and  ship  shape.  Captain 
Kyd  was  his  delight,  and  his  favorite  amusement  was 
to  rig  up  like  that  piratical  gentleman,  and  roar  out 
sanguinary  sea-songs  at  the  top  of  his  voice.  He  would 
dance  nothing  but  sailors'  hornpipes,  rolled  in  his  gait, 
and  was  as  nautical  in  conversation  as  his  uncle  would 
permit.  The  boys  called  him  "  Commodore,"  and  took 
great  pride  in  his  fleet,  which  whitened  the  pond  and 
suffered  disasters  that  would  have  daunted  any  com- 
mander but  a  sea-struck  boy. 

Demi  was  one  of  the  children  who  show  plainly  the 
effect  of  intelligent  love  and  care,  for  soul  and  body 
worked  harmoniously  together.  The  natural  refine- 
ment which  nothing  but  home  influence  can  teach,  gave 
him  sweet  and  simple  manners :  his  mother  had  cher- 
ished an  innocent  and  loving  heart  in  him ;  his  father 
had  watched  over  the  physical  growth  of  his  boy,  and 
kept  the  little  body  straight  and  strong  on  wholesome 
food  and  exercise  and  sleep,  while  Grandpa  March  cul- 
tivated the  little  mind  with  the  tender  wisdom  of  a 
modern  Pythagoras,  —  not  tasking  it  with  long,  hard 
lessons,  parrot-learned,  but  helping  it  to  unfold  as 
naturally  and  beautifully  as  sun  and  dew  help  roses 
bloom.  He  was  not  a  perfect  child,  by  any  means,  but 
his  faults  were  of  the  better  sort ;  and  being  early 
taught  the  secret  of  self-control,  he  was  not  left  at  the 
mercy  of  appetites  and  passions,  as  some  poor  little 
mortals  are,  and  then  punished  for  yielding  to  the 
temptations  against  which  they  have  no  armor.  A 
quiet,  quaint  boy  was  Demi,  serious,  yet  cheery,  quite 
unconscious  that  he  was  unusually  bright  and  beautiful, 
yet  quick  to  see  and  love  intelligence  or  beauty  in  other 


THE  SOYS.  21 

children.  Very  fond  of  books,  and  full  of  lively  fancies, 
born  of  a  strong  imagination  and  a  spiritual  nature, 
these  traits  made  his  parents  anxious  to  balance  them 
with  useful  knowledge  and  healthful  society,  lest  they 
should  make  him  one  of  those  pale  precocious  children 
who  amaze  and  delight  a  family  sometimes,  and  fade 
away  like  hot-house  flowers,  because  the  young  soul 
blooms  too  soon,  and  has  not  a  hearty  body  to  root  it 
firmly  in  the  wholesome  soil  of  this  world. 

So  Demi  was  transplanted  to  Plumfield,  and  took  so 
kindly  to  the  life  there,  that  Meg  and  John  and  grand- 
pa felt  satisfied  that  they  had  done  well.  Mixing  with 
other  boys  brought  out  the  practical  side  of  him,  roused 
his  spirit,  and  brushed  away  the  pretty  cobwebs  he  was 
so  fond  of  spinning  in  that  little  brain  of  his.  To  be 
sure,  he  rather  shocked  his  mother  when  he  came  home, 
by  banging  doors,  saying  "  by  George  "  emphatically, 
and  demanding  tall  thick  boots  "that  clumped  like 
papa's."  But  John  rejoiced  over  him,  laughed  at  his 
explosive  remarks,  got  the  boots,  and  said  contentedly, 
"  He  is  doing  well ;  so  let  him  clump.  I  want  my  son 
to  be  a  manly  boy,  and  this  temporary  roughness  won't 
hurt  him.  We  can  polish  him  up  by  and  by ;  and  as 
for  learning,  he  will  pick  that  up  as  pigeons  do  peas. 
So  don't  hurry  him." 

Daisy  was  as  sunshiny  and  charming  as  ever,  with  all 
sorts  of  little  womanlinesses  budding  in  her,  for  she  was 
like  her  gentle  mother,  and  delighted  in  domestic  things. 
She  had  a  family  of  dolls,  whom  she  brought  up  in  the 
most  exemplary  manner ;  she  could  not  get  on  with- 
out her  little  work-basket  and  bits  of  sewing,  which  she 
did  so  nicely,  that  Demi  frequently  pulled  out  his  hand- 


22  LITTLE  MEN. 

kerchief  to  display  her  neat  stitches,  and  Baby  Josy  had 
a  flannel  petticoat  beautifully  made  by  Sister  Daisy. 
She  liked  to  quiddle  about  the  china-closet,  prepare  the 
salt-cellars,  put  the  spoons  straight  on  the  table ;  and 
every  day  went  round  the  parlor  with  her  brush,  dust- 
ing chairs  and  tables.  Demi  called  her  a  "  Betty,"  but 
was  very  glad  to  have  her  keep  his  things  in  order,  lend 
him  her  nimble  fingers  in  all  sorts  of  work,  and  help 
him  with  his  lessons,  for  they  kept  abreast  there,  and 
had  no  thought  of  rivalry. , 

The  love  between  them  was  as  strong  as  ever ;  and 
no  one  could  laugh  Demi  out  of  his  affectionate  ways 
with  Daisy.  He  fought  her  battles  valiantly,  and  never 
could  understand  why  boys  should  be  ashamed  to  say 
"  right  out,"  that  they  loved  their  sisters.  Daisy  adored 
her  twin,  thought  "  my  brother "  the  most  remarkable 
boy  in  the  world,  and  every  morning,  in  her  little  wrap- 
per, trotted  to  tap  at  his  door  with  a  motherly  —  "  Get 
up,  my  dear,  it's  'most  breakfast  time ;  and  here's  your 
clean  collar." 

Rob  was  an  energetic  morsel  of  a  boy,  who  seemed 
to  have  discovered  the  secret  of  perpetual  motion,  for 
he  never  was  still.  Fortunately,  he  was  not  mischiev- 
ous, nor  very  brave ;  so  he  kept  out  of  trouble  pretty 
well,  and  vibrated  between  father  and  mother  like  an 
affectionate  little  pendulum  with  a  lively  tick,  for  Rob 
was  a  chatterbox. 

Teddy  was  too  young  to  play  a  very  important  part 
in  the  affairs  of  Plumfield,  yet  he  had  his  little  sphere, 
and  filled  it  beautifully.  Every  one  felt  the  need  of  a 
pet  at  times,  and  Baby  was  always  ready  to  accommo- 
date, for  kissing  and  cuddling  suited  him  excellently. 


THE  BOYS.  23 

Mrs.  Jo  seldom  stirred  without  him ;  so  he  had  his  lit- 
tle finger  in  all  the  domestic  pies,  and  every  one  found 
them  all  the  better  for  it,  for  they  believed  in  babies  at 
Plumfield. 

Dick  Brown,  and  Adolphus  or  Dolly  Pettingill,  were 
two  eight-years  olds.  Dolly  stuttered  badly,  but  was 
gradually  getting  over  it,  for  no  one  was  allowed  to 
mock  him  and  Mri  Bhaer  tried  to  cure  it,  by  making 
him  talk  slowly.  Dolly  was  a  good  little  lad,  quite 
uninteresting  and  ordinary,  but  he  nourished  here,  and 
went  through  his  daily  duties  and  pleasures  with  placid 
content  and  propriety. 

Dick  Brown's  affliction  was  a  crooked  back,  yet  he 
bore  his  burden  so  cheerfully,  that  Demi  once  asked  in 
his  queer  way,  "  Do  humps  make  people  good-natured  ? 
I  'd  like  one  if  they  do."  Dick  was  always  merry,  and 
did  his  best  to  be  like  other  boys,  for  a  plucky  spirit 
lived  in  the  feeble  little  body.  When  he  first  came, 
he  was  very  sensitive  about  his  misfortune,  but  soon 
learned  to  forget  it,  for  no  one  dared  remind  him  of  it, 
after  Mr.  Bhaer  had  punished  one  boy  for  laughing  at 
him. 

"  God  don't  care ;  for  my  soul  is  straight  if  my  back 
isn't,"  sobbed  Dick  to  his  tormentor  on  that  occasion ; 
and,  by  cherishing  this  idea,  the  Bhaers  soon  led  him  to 
believe  that  people  also  loved  his  soul,  and  did  not  mind 
his  body,  except  to  pity  and  help  him  to  bear  it. 

Playing  menagerie  once  with  the  others,  some  one 
said,  "  What  animal  will  you  be,  Dick  ?  " 

"  Oh,  I  'm  the  dromedary ;  don't  you  see  the  hump  on 
my  back  ?  "  was  the  laughing  answer. 

"So  you  are,  my  nice  little  one  that  don't  carry  loads, 


24  LITTLE  MEN. 

but  marches  by  the  elephant  first  in  the  procession," 
said  Demi,  who  was  arranging  the  spectacle. 

tt  I  hope  others  will  be  as  kind  to  the  poor  dear  as  my 
boys  have  learned  to  be,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  quite  satisfied 
with  the  success  of  her  teaching,  as  Dick  ambled  past 
her,  looking  like  a  very  happy,  but  a  very  feeble  little 
dromedary,  beside  stout  Stuffy,  who  did  the  elephant 
with  ponderous  propriety. 

Jack  Ford  was  a  sharp,  rather  a  sly  lad,  who  was  sent 
to  this  school,  because  it  was  cheap.  Many  men  would 
have  thought  him  a  smart  boy,  but  Mr.  Bhaer  did  not 
like  his  way  of  illustrating  that  Yankee  word,  and 
thought  his  unboyish  keenness  and  money-loving  as 
much  of  an  affliction  as  Dolly's  stutter,  or  Dick's  hump. 

Ned  Barker  was  like  a  thousand  other  boys  of  four- 
teen, all  legs,  blunder,  and  bluster.  Indeed  the  family 
called  him  the  "  Blunderbuss,"  and  always  expected  to 
see  him  tumble  over  the  chairs,  bump  against  the  tables, 
and  knock  down  any  small  articles  near  him.  He 
bragged  a  good  deal  about  what  he  could  do,  but  sel- 
dom did  any  thing  to  prove  it,  was  not  brave,  and  a  little 
given  to  tale-telling.  He  was  apt  to  bully  the  small 
boys,  and  flatter  the  big  ones,  and  without  being  at  all 
bad,  was  just  the  sort  of  fellow  who  could  very  easily 
be  led  astray. 

George  Cole  had  been  spoilt  by  an  over-indulgent 
mother,  who  stuffed  him  with  sweetmeats  till  he  was 
sick,  and  then  thought  him  too  delicate  to  study,  so  that 
at  twelve  years  old,  he  was  a  pale,  puffy  boy,  dull,  fret- 
ful, and  lazy.  A  friend  persuaded  her  to  send  him  to 
Plumfield,  and  there  he  soon  got  waked  up,  for  sweet 
things  were  seldom  allowed,  much  exercise  required, 


THE  SOTS.  25 

and  study  made  so  pleasant,  that  Stuffy  was  gently 
lured  along,  till  he  quite  amazed  his  anxious  mamma  by 
his  improvement,  and  convinced  her  that  there  was  really 
something  remarkable  in  Plumfield  air. 

Billy  Ward  was  what  the  Scotch  tenderly  call  an 
"  innocent,"  for  though  thirteen  years  old,  he  was  like  a 
child  of  six.  He  had  been  an  unusually  intelligent  boy, 
and  his  father  had  hurried  him  on  too  fast,  giving  him 
all  sorts  of  hard  lessons,  keeping  him  at  his  books  six 
hours  a  day,  and  expecting  him  to  absorb  knowledge  as 
a  Strasburg  goose  does  the  food  crammed  down  its 
throat.  He  thought  he  was  doing  his  duty,  but  he 
nearly  killed  the  boy,  for  a  fever  gave  the  poor  child  a 
sad  holiday,  and  when  he  recovered,  the  overtasked 
brain  gave  out,  and  Billy's  mind  was  like  a  slate  over 
which  a  sponge  has  passed,  leaving  it  blank. 

It  was  a  terrible  lesson  to  his  ambitious  father ;  he 
could  not  bear  the  sight  of  his  promising  child,  changed 
to  a  feeble  idiot,  and  he  sent  him  away  to  Plumfield, 
scarcely  hoping  that  he  could  be  helped,  but  sure  that 
he  would  be  kindly  treated.  Quite  docile  and  harmless 
was  Billy,  and  it  was  pitiful  to  see  how  hard  he  tried 
to  learn,  as  if  groping  dimly  after  the  lost  knowledge 
which  had  cost  him  so  much.  Day  after  day,  he  pored 
over  the  alphabet,  proudly  said  A  and  B,  and  thought 
that  he  knew  them,  but  on  the  morrow  they  were  gone, 
and  all  the  work  was  to  be  done  over  again.  Mr.  Bhaer 
had  infinite  patience  with  him,  and  kept  on  in  spite  of 
the  apparent  hopelessness  of  the  task,  not  caring  for 
book  lessons,  but  trying  gently  to  clear  away  the  mists 
from  the  darkened  mind,  and  give  it  back  intelligence 
enough  to  make  the  boy  less  a  burden  and  an  affliction. 


26  LITTLE  MEN. 

Mrs.  Bhaer  strengthened  his  health  by  every  aid  she 
could  invent,  and  the  boys  all  pitied  and  were  kind  to 
him.  He  did  not  like  their  active  plays,  but  would  sit 
for  hours  watching  the  doves,  would  dig  holes  for 
Teddy  till  even  that  ardent  grubber  was  satisfied,  or 
follow  Silas,  the  man,  from  place  to  place  seeing  him 
work,  for  honest  Si  was  very  good  to  him,  and  though 
he  forgot  his  letters  Billy  remembered  friendly  faces. 

Tommy  Bangs  was  the  scapegrace  of  the  school,  and 
the  most  trying  little  scapegrace  that  ever  lived.  As 
full  of  mischief  as  a  monkey,  yet  so  good-hearted  that 
one  could  not  help  forgiving  his  tricks ;  so  scatter- 
brained that  words  went  by  him  like  the  wind,  yet  so 
penitent  for  every  misdeed,  that  it  was  impossible  to 
keep  sober  when  he  vowed  tremendous  vows  of  refor- 
mation, or  proposed  all  sorts  of  queer  punishments  to 
be  inflicted  upon  himself.  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  lived  in 
a  state  of  preparation  for  any  mishap,  from  the  breaking 
of  Tommy's  own  neck,  to  the  blowing  up  of  the  entire 
family  with  gunpowder ;  and  Nursey  had  a  particular 
drawer  in  which  she  kept  bandages,  plasters,  and  salves 
for  his  especial  use,  for  Tommy  was  always  being 
brought  in  half  dead ;  but  nothing  ever  killed  him,  and 
he  rose  from  every  downfall  with  redoubled  vigor. 

The  first  day  he  came,  he  chopped  the  top  off  one 
finger  in  the  hay-cutter,  and  during  the  week,  fell  from 
the  shed  roof,  was  chased  by  an  angry  hen  who  tried  to 
pick  his  eyes  out  because  he  examined  her  chickens, 
got  run  away  with,  and  had  his  ears  boxed  violently 
by  Asia,  who  caught  him  luxuriously  skimming  a  pan 
of  cream  with  half  a  stolen  pie.  Undaunted,  however, 
by  any  failures  or  rebuffs,  this  indomitable  youth  went 


THE  BOYS.  27 

on  amusing  himself  with  all  sorts  of  tricks  till  no  one 
felt  safe.  If  he  did  not  know  his  lessons,  he  always  had 
some  droll  excuse  to  offer,  and  as  he  was  usually  clever 
at  his  books,  and  as  bright  as  a'button  in  composing 
answers  when  he  did  not  know  them,  he  got  on  pretty 
well  at  school.  But  out  of  school,  —  Ye  gods  and  little 
fishes!  how  Tommy  did  carouse ! 

He  wound  fat  Asia  up  in  her  own  clothes  line  against 
the  post,  and  left  her  there  to  fume  and  scold  for  half 
an  hour  one  busy  Monday  morning.  He  dropped  a  hot 
cent  down  Mary  Ann's  back  as  that  pretty  maid  was 
waiting  at  table  one  day  when  there  were  gentlemen  to 
dinner,  whereat  the  poor  girl  upset  the  soup  and  rushed 
out  of  the  room  in  dismay,  leaving  the  family  to  think 
that  she  had  gone  mad.  He  fixed  a  pail  of  water  up  in 
a  tree,  with  a  bit  of  ribbon  fastened  to  the  handle,  and 
when  Daisy,  attracted  by  the  gay  streamer,  tried  to  pull 
it  down,  she  got  a  douche  bath  that  spoiled  her  clean 
frock  and  hurt  her  little  feelings  very  much.  He  put 
rough  white  pebbles  in  the  sugar-bowl  when  his  grand- 
mother came  to  tea,  and  the  poor  old  lady  wondered 
why  they  didn't  melt  in  her  cup,  but  was  too  polite  to  say 
any  thing.  He  passed  round  snuff  in  church  so  that  five  of 
the  boys  sneezed  with  such  violence  they  had  to  go  out. 
He  dug  paths  in  winter  time,  and  then  privately  watered 
them  so  that  people  should  tumble  down.  He  drove 
poor  Silas  nearly  wild  by  hanging  his  big  boots  in  con- 
spicuous places,  for  his  feet  were  enormous,  and  he  was 
very  much  ashamed  of  them.  He  persuaded  confiding 
little  Dolly  to  tie  a  thread  to  one  of  his  loose  teeth,  and 
leave  the  string  hanging  from  his  mouth  when  he  went 
to  sleep,  so  that  Tommy  could  pull  it  out  without  his 


28  LITTLE  MEN. 

feeling  the  dreaded  operation.  But  the  tooth  wouldn't 
come  at  the  first  tweak,  and  poor  Dolly  woke  up  in 
great  anguish  of  spirit,  and  lost  all  faith  in  Tommy 
from  that  day  forth.  The  last  prank  had  been  to  give 
the  hens  bread  soaked  in  rum,  which  made  them  tipsy 
and  scandalized  all  the  other  fowls,  for  the  respectable 
old  biddies  went  staggering  about,  pecking  and  cluck- 
ing in  the  most  maudlin  manner,  while  the  family  were 
convulsed  with  laughter  at  their  antics,  till  Daisy  took 
pity  on  them  and  shut  them  up  in  the  hen-house  to 
sleep  off  their  intoxication. 

These  were  the  boys,  and  they  lived  together  as  hap- 
pily as  twelve  lads  could,  studying  and  playing,  working 
and  squabbling,  fighting  faults  and  cultivating  virtues 
in  the  good  old-fashioned  way.  Boys  at  other  schools 
probably  learned  more  from  books,  but  less  of  that  bet- 
ter wisdom  which  makes  good  men.  Latin,  Greek,  and 
mathematics  were  all  very  well,  but  in  Professor  Bhaer's 
opinion,  self-knowledge,  self-help,  and  self-control  were 
more  important,  and  he  tried  to  teach  them  carefully. 
People  shook  their  heads  sometimes  at  his  ideas,  even 
while  they  owned  that  the  boys  improved  wonderfully 
in  manners  and  morals.  But  then,  as  Mrs.  Jo  said  to 
Nat,  it  was  an  "  odd  school." 


CHAPTER    III. 
SUNDAY. 

THE  moment  the  bell  rang  next  morning  Nat  flew 
out  of  bed,  and  dressed  himself  with  great  satis- 
faction in  the  suit  of  clothes  he  found  on  the  chair. 
They  were  not  new,  being  half-worn  garments  of  one  of 
the  well  to-do  boys ;  but  Mrs.  Bhaer  kept  all  such  cast- 
off  feathers  for  the  picked  robins  who  strayed  into  her 
nest.  They  were  hardly  on  when  Tommy  appeared  in 
a  high  state  of  clean  collar,  and  escorted  Nat  down  to 
breakfast. 

The  sun  was  shining  into  the  dining-room  on  the  well- 
spread  table,  and  the  flock  of  hungry,  hearty  lads  who 
gathered  round  it.  Nat  observed  that  they  were  much 
more  orderly  than  they  had  been  the  night  before,  and 
every  one  stood  silently  behind  his  chair  while  little 
Rob,  standing  beside  his  father  fit  the  head  of  the  table, 
folded  his  hands,  reverently  bent  his  curly  head,  and 
softly  repeated  a  short  grace  in  the  devout  German 
fashion,  which  Mr.  Bhaer  loved  and  taught  his  little 
son  to  honor.  Then  they  all  sat  down  to  enjoy  the 
Sunday-morning  breakfast  of  coffee,  steak,  and  baked 
potatoes,  instead  of  the  bread  and  milk  fare  with  which 
they  usually  satisfied  their  young  appetites.  There  was 


30  LITTLE  MEN. 

much  pleasant  talk  while  the  knives  and  forks  rattled 
briskly,  for  certain  Sunday  lessons  were  to  be  learned, 
the  Sunday  walk  settled,  and  plans  for  the  week  dis- 
cussed. As  he  listened,  Nat  thought  it  seemed  as  if 
this  day  must  be  a  very  pleasant  one,  for  he  loved  quiet, 
and  there  was  a  cheerful  sort  of  hush  over  every  thing 
that  pleased  him  very  much ;  because,  in  spite  of  his 
rough  life,  the  boy  possessed  the  sensitive  nerves  which 
belong  to  a  music-loving  nature. 

"Now,  my  lads,  get  your  morning  jobs  done,  and  let 
me  find  you  ready  for  church  when  the  'bus  comes 
round,"  said  Father  Bhaer,  and  set  the  example  by 
going  into  the  school-room  to  get  books  ready  for  the 
morrow. 

Every  one  scattered  to  his  or  her  task,  for  each  had 
some  little  daily  duty,  and  was  expected  to  perform  it 
faithfully.  Some  brought  wood  and  water,  brushed  the 
steps,  or  ran  errands  for  Mrs.  Bhaer.  Others  fed  the 
pet  animals,  and  did  chores  about  the  barn  with  Franz. 
Daisy  washed  the  cups,  and  Demi  wiped  them,  for  the 
twins  liked  to  work  together,  and  Demi  had  been 
taught  to  make  himself  useful  in  the  little  house  at 
home.  Even  baby  Teddy  had  his  small  job  to  do,  and 
trotted  to  and  fro,  putting  napkins  away,  and  pushing 
chairs  into  their  places.  For  half  an  hour  the  lads 
buzzed  about  like  a  hive  of  bees,  then  the  'bus  drove 
round,  Father  Bhaer  and  Franz  with  the  eight  older 
boys  piled  in,  and  away  they  went  for  a  three  mile  drive 
to  church  in  town. 

Because  of  the  troublesome  cough  Nat  preferred  to 
stay  at  home  with  the  four  small  boys,  and  spent  a 
happy  morning  in  Mrs.  Bhaer's  room,  listening  to  the 


SUNDAY.  31 

stories  she  read  them,  learning  the  hymn  she  taught 
them,  and  then  quietly  employing  himself  pasting  pict- 
ures into  an  old  ledger. 

"  This  is  my  Sunday  closet,"  she  said,  showing  him 
shelves  filled  .with  picture-books,  paint-boxes,  architect- 
ural blocks,  little  diaries,  and  materials  for  letter-writ- 
ing. "  I  want  my  boys  to  love  Sunday,  to  find  it  a 
peaceful,  pleasant  day,  when  they  can  rest  from  common 
study  and  play,  yet  enjoy  quiet  pleasures,  and  learn,  in 
simple  ways,  lessons  more  important  than  any  taught  in 
school.  Do  you  understand  me  ?  "  she  asked,  watching 
Nat's  attentive  face. 

"  You  mean  to  be  good  ?  "  he  said,  after  hesitating  a 
minute. 

"  Yes ;  to  be  good,  and  to  love  to  be  good.  It  is  hard 
work  sometimes,  I  know  very  well ;  but  we  all  help  one 
another,  and  so  we  get  on.  This  is  one  of  the  ways  in 
which  I  try  to  help  my  boys,"  and  she  took  down  a 
thick  book,  which  seemed  half-full  of  writing,  and 
opened  at  a  page  on  which  there  was  one  word  at 
the  top. 

"  Why,  that 's  my  name ! "  cried  Nat,  looking  both 
surprised  and  interested. 

"  Yes ;  I  have  a  page  for  each  boy.  I  keep  a  little 
account  of  how  he  gets  on  through  the  week,  and  Sun- 
day night  I  show  him  the  record.  If  it  is  bad  I' am 
sorry  and  disappointed,  if  it  is  good  I  am  glad  and 
proud ;  but,  whichever  it  is,  the  boys  know  I  want  to 
help  them,  and  they  try  to  do  their  best  for  love  of  me 
and  Father  Bhaer." 

"I  should  think  they  would,"  said  Nat,  catching  a 
glimpse  of  Tommy's  name  opposite  his  own,  and  won- 
dering what  was  written  under  it. 


32  LITTLE  MEN. 

Mrs.  Bhaer  saw  his  eye  on  the  words,  and  shook  her 
head,  saying,  as  she  turned  a  leaf — 

"  No,  I  don't  show  my  records  to  any  but  the  one  to 
whom  each  belongs.  I  call  this  my  conscience  book ; 
and  only  you  and  I  will  ever  know  what  is  to  be  writ- 
ten on  the  page  below  your  name.  Whether  you  will 
be  pleased  or  ashamed  to  read  it  next  Sunday  depends 
on  yourself.  I  think  it  will  be  a  good  report ;  at  any 
rate,  I  shall  try  to  make  things  easy  for  you  in  this  new 
place,  and  shall  be  quite  contented  if  you  keep  our  few 
rules,  live  happily  with  the  boys,  and  learn  something." 

"  I  '11  try,  ma'am ; "  and  Nat's  thin  face  flushed  up 
with  the  earnestness  of  his  desire  to  make  Mrs.  Bhaer 
"  glad  and  proud,"  not  "  sorry  and  disappointed."  "  It 
must  be  a  great  deal  of  trouble  to  write  about  so  many," 
he  added,  as  she  shut  her  book  with  an  encouraging  pat 
on  the  shoulder. 

"  Not  to  me,  for  I  really  don't  know  which  I  like  best, 
writing  or  boys,"  she  said,  laughing  to  see  Nat  stare 
with  astonishment  at  the  last  item.  "  Yes,  I  know  many 
people  think  boys  are  a  nuisance,  but  that  is  because 
they  don't  understand  them.  I  do ;  and  I  never  saw 
the  boy  yet  whom  I  could  not  get  on  capitally  with 
after  I  had  once  found  the  soft  spot  in  his  heart.  Bless 
me,  I  couldn't  get  on  at  all  without  my  flock  of  dear, 
noisy,  naughty,  harum-scarum  little  lads,  could  I,  my 
Teddy?"  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  hugged  the  young  rogue, 
just  in  time  to  save  the  big  inkstand  from  going  into 
his  pocket. 

Nat,  who  had  never  heard  any  thing  like  this  before, 
really  did  not  know  whether  Mother  Bhaer  was  a  trifle 
crazy,  or  the  most  delightful  woman  he  had  ever  met. 


SUNDAY.  33 

He  rather  inclined  to  the  latter  opinion,  in  spite  of  her 
peculiar  tastes,  for  she  had  a  way  of  filling  up  a  fellow's 
plate  before  he  asked,  of  laughing  at  his  jokes,  gently 
tweaking  him  by  the  ear,  or  clapping  him  on  the  shoul- 
der, that  Nat  found  very  engaging. 

"  Now,  I  think  you"  woiild'like  to  go  into  the  school- 
room and  practise  some  of  the  hymns  we  are  to  sing 
to-night,"  she  said,  rightly  guessing  the  thing  of  all 
others  that  he  wanted  to  do. 

Alone  with  the  beloved  violin  and  the  music-book 
propped  up  before  him  in  the  sunny  window,  while 
Spring  beauty  filled  the  wrorld  outside,  and  Sabbath 
silence  reigned  within,  Nat  enjoyed  an  hour  or  two  of 
genuine  happiness,  learning  the  sweet  old  tunes,  and 
forgetting  the  hard  past  in  the  cheerful  present. 

When  the  church-goers  came  back  and  dinner  was 
over,  every  one  read,  wrote  letters  home,  said  their 
Sunday  lessons,  or  talked  quietly  to  one  another,  sitting 
here  and  there  about  the  house.  At  three  o'clock  the 
entire  family  turned  out  to  walk,  for  all  the  active  young 
bodies  must  have  exercise  ;  and  in  these  walks  the  ac- 
tive young  minds  were  taught  to  see  and  love  the  prov- 
idence of  God  in  the  beautiful  miracles  which  Nature 
was  working  before  their  eyes.  Mr.  Bhaer  always  went 
with  them,  and  in  his  simple,  fatherly  way,  found  for 
his  flock  "Sermons  in  stones,  books  in  the  running 
brooks,  and  good  in  every  thing." 

Mrs.  Bhaer  with  Daisy  and  her  own  two  boys  drove 
into  town,  to  pay  the  weekly  visit  to  Grandma,  which 
was  busy  Mother  Bhaer's  one  holiday  and  greatest 
pleasure.  Nat  was  not  strong  enough  for  the  long  walk, 
and  asked  to  stay  at  home  with  Tommy,  who  kindly 


34  LITTLE  MEN. 

offered  to  do  the  honors  of  Plumfield.  "  You  've  seen 
the  house,  so  come  out  and  have  a  look  at  the  garden, 
and  the  lurn,  and  the  menagerie,"  said  Tommy,  when 
they  were  left  alone  with  Asia,  to  see  that  they  didn't 
get  into  mischief;  for,  though  Tommy  was  one  of  the 
best  meaning  boys  who  ever  adorned  knickerbockers, 
accidents  of  the  most  direful  -nature  were  always  hap- 
pening to  him,  no  one  could  exactly  tell  how. 

"What  is  your  menagerie?"  asked  Nat,  as  they 
trotted  along  the  drive  that  encircled  the  house. 

u  We  all  have  pets  you  see,  and  we  keep  'em  in  the 
corn-barn,  and  call  it  the  menagerie.  Here  you  are. 
Isn't  my  guinea-pig  a  beauty  ?  "  and  Tommy  proudly 
presented  one  of  the  ugliest  specimens  of  that  pleasing 
animal  that  Nat  ever  saw. 

"  I  know  a  boy  with  a  dozen  of  'em,  and  he  said  he  'd 
give  me  one,  only  I  hadn't  any  place  to  keep  it,  so  I 
couldn't  have  it.  It  was  white,  with  black  spots,  a 
regular  rouser,  and  maybe  I  could  get  it  for  you  if 
you 'd- like  it,"  said  Nat,  feeling  it  would  be  a  delicate 
return  for  Tommy's  attentions. 

a  I  'd  like  it  ever  so  much,  and  I  '11  give  you  this  one, 
and  they  can  live  together  if  they  don't  light.  Those 
white  mice  are  Rob's,  Franz  gave  'cm  to  him.  The 
rabbits  are  Ned's,  and  the  bantams  outside  are  Stuffy 's. 
That  box  thing  is  Demi's  turtle-tank,  only  he  hasn't 
b.'gun  to  get  'em  yet.  Last  year  he  had  sixty-two, 
whackers  some  of  'em.  He  stamped  one  of  'em  with 
his  name  and  the  year,  and  let  it  go;  and  he  says  maybe 
he  will  find  it  ever  so  long  after  and  know  it.  He  read 
about  a  turtle  being  found  that  had  a  mark  on  it  that 
showed  it  must  be  hundreds  of  years  old.  Demi's  such 
a  funny  chap." 


SUNDAY.  35 

"  What  is  in  this  box  ?  "  asked  Nat,  stopping  before 
a  large  deep  one,  half-full  of  earth. 

"  Oh,  that 's  Jack  Ford's  worm-shop.  He  digs  heaps 
of  'em  and  keeps  'em  here,  and  when  we  want  any  to 
go  a  fishing  with,  we  buy  some  of  him.  It  saves  lots 
of  trouble,  only  he  charged  too  much  for  'em.  Why, 
last  time  we  traded  I  had  to  pay  two  cents  a  dozen,  and 
then  got  little  ones.  Jack 's  mean  sometimes,  and  I 
told  him  I  'd  dig  for  myself  if  he  didn't  lower  his  prices. 
Now,  I  own  two  hens,  those  gray  ones  with  top  knots, 
first-rate  ones  they  are  too,  and  I  sell  Mrs.  Bhaer  the 
eggs,  but  I  never  ask  her  more  than  twenty-five  cents  a 
dozen,  never !  I  'd  be  ashamed  to  do  it,"  cried  Tommy 
with  a  glance  of  scorn  at  the  worm-shop. 

"•  Who  owns  the  dogs  ?  "  asked  Nat,  much  interested 
in  these  commercial  transactions,  and  feeling  that  T. 
Bangs  was  a  man  whom  it  would  be  a  privilege  and  a 
pleasure  to  patronize. 

"The  big  dog  is  Emil's.  His  name  is  Christopher 
Colnmbns.  Mrs.  Bhaer  named  him  because  she  likes 
to  say  Christopher  Columbus,  and  no  one  minds  it  if 
she  means  the  dog,"  answered  Tommy,  in  the  tone  of 
a  showman  displaying  his  menagerie.  "  The  white  pup 
is  Rob's,  and  the  yellow  one  is  Teddy's.  A  man  was 
going  to  drown  them  in  our  pond  and  Pa  Bhaer 
wouldn't  let  him.  They  do  well  enough  for  the  little 
chaps,  I  don't  think  much  of  'em  myself.  Their  names 
are  Castor  and  Pollux." 

"  I  'd  like  Toby  the  donkey  best,  if^[  could  have  any 
thing,  it 's  so  nice  to  ride,  and  he 's  so  little  and  good," 
said  Nat,  remembering  the  weary  tramps  he  had 
taken  on  his  own  tired  feet. 


36  LITTLE  MEN. 

"Mr.  Laurie  sent  him  out  to  Mrs.  Bhaer,  so  she 
shouldn't  carry  Teddy  on  her  back  when  we  go  to 
walk.  We're  all  fond  of  Toby,  and  he's  a  first-rate 
donkey,  sir.  Those  pigeons  belong  to  the  whole  lot  of 
us,  we  each  have  our  pet  one,  and  go  shares  in  all  the 
little  ones  as  they  come  along.  Squabs  are  great  fun ; 
there  ain't  any  now,  but  you  can  go  up  and  take  a  look 
at  the  old  fellows,  while  I  see  if  Cockletop  and  Granny 
have  laid  any  eggs." 

Nat  climbed  up  a  ladder,  put  his  head  through  a  trap 
door  and  took  a  long  look  at  the  pretty  doves  billing 
and  cooing  in  their  spacious  loft.  Some  on  their  nests, 
some  bustling  in  and  out,  and  some  sitting  at  their 
doors,  while  many  went  flying  from  the  sunny  house- 
top to  the  straw-strewn  farmyard,  where  six  sleek 
cows  were  placidly  ruminating. 

"Everybody  has  got  something  but  me.  I  wish  I 
had  a  dove,  or  a  hen,  or  even  a  turtle,  all  my  own," 
thought  Nat,  feeling  very  poor  as  he  saw  the  interest- 
ing treasures  of  the  other  boys.  "  How  do  you  get 
these  things?"  he  asked,  when  he  joined  Tommy  in 
the  barn. 

"  "We  find  'em,  or  buy  'em,  or  folks  give  'em  to  us. 
My  father  sends  me  mine ;  but  as  soon  as  I  get  egg 
money  enough,  I  'm  going  to  buy  a  pair  of  ducks. 
There 's  a  nice  little  pond  for  'em  behind  the  bam,  and 
people  pay  well  for  duck-eggs,  and  the  little  duckies 
are  pretty,  and  it 's  fun  to  see  'em  swim,"  said  Tommy, 
with  the  air  of  a  millionnaire. 

Nat  sighed,  for  he  had  neither  father  nor  money, 
nothing  in  the  wide  world  but  an  old  empty  pocket- 
book,  and  the  skill  that  lay  in  his  ten  finger  tips. 


SUNDAY.  37 

Tommy  seemed  to  understand  the  question  and  the 
sigh  which  followed  his  answer,  for  after  a  moment  of 
deep  thought,  he  suddenly  broke  out  — 

"  Look  here,  I  '11  tell  you  what  I  '11  do.  If  you  will 
hunt  eggs  for  me,  I  hate  it,  I  '11  give  you  one  egg  out  of 
every  dozen.  You  keep  account,  and  when  you've 
had  twelve,  Mother  Bhaer  will  give  you  twenty-five 
cents  for  'em,  and  then  you  can  buy  what  you  like,  don't 
you  see?" 

"  I  '11  do  it !  What  a  kind  feller  you  are,  Tommy ! " 
cried  Nat,  quite  dazzled  by  this  brilliant  offer. 

"  Pooh !  that  is  not  any  thing.  You  begin  now  and 
rummage  the  barn,  and  I  '11  wait  here  for  you.  Granny 
is  cackling,  so  you  're  sure  to  find  one  somewhere,"  and 
Tommy  threw  himself  down  on  the  hay  with  a  luxu- 
rious sense  of  having  made  a  good  bargain,  and  done  a 
friendly  thing. 

Nat  joyfully  began  his  search,  and  went  rustling 
from  loft  to  loft  till  he  found  two  fine  eggs,  one  hidden 
under  a  beam,  and  the  other  in  an  old  peck  measure, 
which  Mrs.  Cockletop  had  appropriated. 

"You  may  have  one  and  I'll  have  the  other,  that 
will  just  make  up  my  last  dozen,  and  to-morrow  we  '11 
start  fresh.  Here,  you  chalk  your  accounts  up  near 
mine,  and  then  we'll  be  all  straight,"  said  Tommy, 
showing  a  row  of  mysterious  figures  on  the  smooth 
side  of  an  old  winnowing  machine. 

With  a  delightful  sense  of  importance,  the  proud 
possessor  of  one  egg  opened  his  account  with  his  friend, 
who  laughingly  wrote  above  the  figures  these  imposing 
words, 

"T.  Bangs  &  Co." 


38  LITTLE  MEN. 

Poor  Nat  found  them  so  fascinating  that  he  was 
with  difficulty  persuaded  to  go  and  deposit  his  first 
piece  of  portable  property  in  Asia's  store-room.  Then 
they  went  on  again,  and  having  made  the  acquaintance 
of  the  two  horses,  six  cows,  three  pigs,  and  one  Alder- 
ney  "Bossy,"  as  calves  are  called  in  New  England, 
Tommy  took  Nat  to  a  certain  old  willow-tree  that 
overhung  a  noisy  little  brook.  From  the  fence  it  was 
an  easy  scramble  into  a  wide  niche  between  the  three 
big  branches,  which  had  been  cut  off  to  send  out  from 
year  to  year  a  crowd  of  slender  twigs,  till  a  green  can- 
opy rustled  overhead.  Here  little  seats  had  been  fixed, 
and  in  a  hollow  place  a  closet  made  big  enough  to  hold 
a  book  or  two,  a  dismantled  boat,  and  several  half- 
finished  whistles. 

"  This  is  Demi's  and  my  private  place ;  we  made  it, 
and  nobody  can  come  up  unless  we  let  'em,  except 
Daisy,  we  don't  mind  her,"  said  Tommy,  as  Nat  looked 
with  delight  from  the  babbling  brown  water  below  to 
the  green  arch  above,  where  bees  were  making  a  musi- 
cal murmur  as  they  feasted  on  the  long  yellow  blos- 
soms that  filled  the  air  with  sweetness. 

"Oh,  it's  just  beautiful!"  cried  Nat.  "I  do  hope 
you  '11  let  me  up  sometimes.  I  never  saw  such  a  nice 
place  in  all  my  life.  I  'd  like  to  be  a  bird,  and  live  here 
always." 

"It  is  pretty  nice.  You  can  come  if  Demi  don't 
mind,  and  I  gness  he  won't,  because  he  said  last  night 
that  he  liked  you." 

"  Did  he  ?"  and  Nat  smiled  with  pleasure,  for  Demi's 
regard  seemed  to  be  valued  by  all  the  boys,  partly 
because  he  was  Father  Bhaer's  nephew,  and  partly 


SUNDAY.  39 

because  he  was  such  a  sober,  conscientious  little  fel- 
low. 

"  Yes ;  Demi  likes  quiet  chaps,  and  I  guess  he  and 
you  will  get  on  if  you  care  about  reading  as  he  does." 

Poor  Nat's  flush  of  pleasure  deepened  to  a  painful 
scarlet  at  those  last  words,  and  he  stammered  out  — 

"  I  can't  read  very  well ;  I  never  had  any  time ;  I 
was  always  fiddling  round,  you  know." 

"  I  don't  love  it  myself,  but  I  can  do  it  well  enough 
when  I  want  to,"  said  Tommy,  after  a  surprised  look, 
which  said  as  plainly  as  words,  "  A  boy  twelve  years 
old  and  can't  read ! " 

"I  can  read  music,  anyway,"  added  Nat,  rather 
ruffled  at  having  to  confess  his  ignorance. 

"  I  can't ; "  and  Tommy  spoke  in  a  respectful  tone, 
which  emboldened  Nat  to  say  firmly  — 

"  I  mean  to  study  real  hard  and  learn  every  thing  I 
can,  for  I  never  had  a  chance  before.  Does  Mr.  Bhaer 
give  hard  lessons  ?  " 

"  No,  he  isn't  a  bit  cross ;  he  sort  of  explains  and 
gives  you  a  boost  over  the  hard  places.  Some  folks 
don't ;  my  other  master  didn't.  If  we  missed  a  word, 
didn't  we  get  raps  on  the  head ! "  and  Tommy  rubbed 
his  own  pate  as  if  it  tingled  yet  with  the  liberal  supply' 
of  raps,  the  memory  of  which  was  the  only  thing  he 
brought  away  after  a  year  with  his  "  other  master." 

« I  think  I  could  read  this,"  said  Nat,  who  had  been 
examining  the  books. 

"Read  a  bit,  then;  I'll  help  you,"  resumed  Tommy, 
with  a  patronizing  air. 

So  Nat  did  his  best,  and  floundered  through  a  page 
with  many  friendly  "  boosts  "  from  Tommy,  who  told 


40  LITTLE  MEN. 

him  he  would  soon  "go  it "  as  well  as  anybody.  Then 
they  sat  and  talked  boy-fashion  about  all  sorts  of  things, 
among  others,  gardening ;  for  Nat,  looking  down  from 
his  perch,  asked  what  was  planted  in  the  many  little 
patches  lying  below  them  on  the  other  side  of  the 
brook. 

"These  are  our  farms,"  said  Tommy.  "We  each 
have  our  own  patch,  and  raise  what  we  like  in  it,  only 
we  have  to  choose  different  things,  and  can't  change 
till  the  crop  is  in,  and  we  must  keep  it  in  order  all 
summer." 

"  What  are  you  going  to  raise  this  year  ?  " 

"  Wai,  I  cattkated  to  hev  beans,  as  they  are  about 
the  easiest  crop  a-goin'." 

Nat  could  not  help  laughing,  for  Tommy  had  pushed 
back  his  hat,  put  his  hands  in  his  pockets,  and  drawled 
out  his  words  in  unconscious  imitation  of  Silas,  the  man 
who  managed  the  place  for  Mr.  Bhaer. 

"  Come,  you  needn't  laugh  ;  beans  are  ever  so  much 
easier  than  com  or  potatoes.  I  tried  melons  last  year, 
but  the  bugs  were  a  bother,  and  the  old  things  wouldn't 
get  ripe  before  the  frost,  so  I  didn't  have  but  one  good 
water  and  two  little  'mush  mellions,'"  said  Tommy, 
relapsing  into  a  "  Silasism  "  with  the  last  word. 

"  Com  looks  pretty  growing,"  said  Nat,  politely,  to 
atone  for  his  laugh. 

"  Yes,  but  you  have  to  hoe  it  over  and  over  again. 
Now,  six  weeks'  beans  only  have  to  be  done  once  or  so, 
and  they  get  ripe  soon.  I  'm  going  to  try  'em,  for  I 
spoke  first.  Stuffy  wanted  'em,  but  he 's  got  to  take 
peas  ;  they  only  have  to  be  picked,  and  he  ought  to  do 
it,  he  eats  such  a  lot." 


SUNDAY.  41 

"  I  wonder  if  I  shall  have  a  garden  ? "  said  Nat, 
thinking  that  even  corn  hoeing  must  be  pleasant 
work. 

"  Of  course  you  will,"  said  a  voice  from  below,  and 
there  was  Mr.  Bhaer  returned  from  his  walk,  and  come 
to  find  them,  for  he  managed  to  have  a  little  talk  with 
every  one  of  the  lads  sometime  during  the  day,  and 
found  that  these  chats  gave  them  a  good  start  for  the 
coming  week. 

Sympathy  is  a  sweet  thing,  and  it  worked  wonders 
here,  for  each  boy  knew  that  Father  Bhaer  was  in- 
terested in  him,  and  some  were  readier  to  open  their 
hearts  to  him  than  to  a  woman,  especially  the  older 
ones,  who  liked  to  talk  over  their  hopes  and  plans,  man 
to  man.  When  sick  or  m  trouble  they  instinctively 
turned  to  Mrs.  Jo,  while  the  little  ones  made  her  their 
mother-confessor  on  all  occasions. 

In  descending  from  their  nest,  Tommy  fell  into  the 
brook ;  being  used  to  it  he  calmly  picked  himself  out 
and  retired  to  the  house  to  be  dried.  This  left  Nat  to 
Mr.  Bhaer,  which  was  just  what  he  wished,  and,  during 
the  stroll  they  took  among  the  garden  plots,  he  won  the 
lad's  heart  by  giving  him  a  little  "farm,"  and  discussing 
crops  with  him  as  gravely  as  if  the  food  for  the  family 
depended  on  the  harvest.  From  this  pleasant  topic 
they  went  to  others,  and  Nat  had  many  new  and  help- 
ful thoughts  put  into  a  mind  that  received  them  as 
gratefully  as  the  thirsty  earth  had  received  the  warm 
spring  rain.  All  supper  time  he  brooded  over  them, 
often  fixing  his  eyes  on  Mr.  Bhaer  with  an  inquiring 
look,  that  seemed  to  say, —  "I  like  that,  do  it  again, 
sir."  I  don't  know  whether  the  man  understood  the 


42  LITTLE  MEN. 

child's  mute  language  or  not,  but  when  the  boys  were 
all  gathered  together  in  Mrs.  Bhaer's  parlor  for  the 
Sunday  evening  talk,  he  chose  a  subject  which  might 
have  been  suggested  by  the  walk  in  the  garden. 

As  he  looked  about  him  Nat  thought  it  seemed  more 
like  a  great  family  than  a  school,  for  the  lads  were  sit- 
ting in  a  wide  half-circle  round  the  fire,  some  on  chairs, 
some  on  the  rug,  Daisy  and  Demi  on  the  knees  of  uncle 
Fritz,  and  Rob  snugly  stowed  away  in  the  back  of  his 
mother's  easy-chair,  where  he  could  nod  unseen  if  the 
talk  got  beyond  his  depth.  Every  one  looked  quite 
comfortable,  and  listened  attentively,  for  the  long  walk 
made  rest  agreeable,  and  as  every  boy  there  knew  that 
he  would  be  called  upon  for  his  views,  he  kept  his  wits 
awake  to  be  ready  with  an  answer. 

"  Once  upon  a  time,"  began  Mr.  Bhaer  in  the  dear 
old-fashioned  way,  "there  was  a  great  and  wise  gar- 
dener who  had  the  largest  garden  ever  seen.  A  won- 
derful and  lovely  place  it  was,  and  he  watched  over  it 
with  the  greatest  skill  and  care,  and  raised  all  manner 
of  excellent  and  useful  things.  But  weeds  would  grow 
even  in  this  fine  garden ;  often  the  ground  was  bad  and 
the  good  seeds  sown  in  it  would  not  spring  up.  He 
had  many  under  gardeners  to  help  him.  Some  did 
their  duty  and  earned  the  rich  wages  he  gave  them ; 
but  others  neglected  their  parts  and  let  them  run  to 
waste,  which  displeased  him  much.  But  he  was  very 
patient,  and  for  thousands  and  thousands  of  years  he 
worked  and  waited  for  his  great  harvest." 

"He  must  have  been  pretty  old,"  said  Demi,  who 
was  looking  straight  into  uncle  Fritz's  face,  as  if  to 
catch  every  word. 


SUNDAY.  43 

"Hush,  Demi,  it's  a  fairy  story,"  whispered  Daisy. 

"  No,  I  think  it 's  a  arrygory,"  said  Demi.  *• 

"  What  is  a  arrygory  ?  "  called  out  Tommy,  who  was 
of  an  inquiring  turn. 

"  Tell  him,  Demi,  if  you  can,  and  don't  use  words 
unless  you  are  quite  sure  you  know  what  they  mean," 
said  Mr.  Bhaer. 

"I  do  know,  grandpa  told  me !  A  fable  is  a  arry- 
gory;  it's  a  story  that  means  something.  My  'Story 
without  an  end '  is  one,  because  the  child  in  it  means 
a  soul ;  don't  it,  aunty  ?  "  cried  Demi,  eager  to  prove 
himself  right. 

"That's  it,  dear;  and  uncle's  story  is  an  allegory,  I 
am  quite  sure;  so  listen  and  see  what  it  means,"  re- 
turned Mrs.  Jo,  who  always  took  part  in  whatever  was 
going  on,  and  enjoyed  it  as  much  as  any  boy  among 
them. 

Demi  composed  himself,  and  Mr.  Bhaer  went  on  in, 
his  best  English,  for  he  had  improved  much  in  the  last 
five  years,  and  said  the  boys  did  it. 

"  This  great  gardener  gave  a  dozen  or  so  of  little 
plots  'to  one  of  his  servants,  and  told  him  to  do  his  best 
and  see  what  he  could  raise.  Now  this  servant  was  not 
rich,  nor  wise,  nor  very  good,  but  he  wanted  to  help 
because  the  gardener  had  been  very  kind  to  him  in 
many  ways.  So  he  gladly  took  the  little  plots  and 
fell  to  work.  They  were  all  sorts  of  shapes  and  sizes, 
and  some  were  very  good  soil,  some  rather  stony, 
and  all  of  them  needed  much  care,  for  in  the  rich  soil 
the  weeds  grew  fast,  and  in  the  poor  soil  there  were 
many  stones." 

"  What  was  growing  in  them  besides  the  weeds,  and 


44  LITTLE  MEN. 

stones  ?  "  asked  Nat ;  so  interested,  he  forgot  his  shyness 
a»d  spoke  before  them  all. 

>  "  Flowers,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer,  with  a  kind  look.  "  Even 
the  roughest,  most  neglected  little  bed  had  a  bit  of 
heart's-ease  or  a  sprig  of  mignonette  in  it.  One  had  ro- 
ses, sweet  peas,  and  daisies  in  it,"  —  here  he  pinched  the 
plump  cheek  of  the  little  girl  leaning  on  his  arm.  u  An- 
other had  all  sorts  of  curious  plants  in  it,  bright  pebbles, 
a  vine  that  went  climbing  up  like  Jack's  bean-stalk,  and 
many  good  seeds  just  beginning  to  sprout;  for,  you  see, 
this  bed  had  been  taken  fine  care  of  by  a  wise  old 
man,  who  had  worked  in  gardens  of  this  sort  all  his 
life." 

At  this  part  of  the  "  arrygory,"  Demi  put  his  head  on 
one  side  like  an  inquisitive  bird,  and  fixed  his  bright 
eye  on  his  uncle's  face,  as  if  he  suspected  something  and 
was  on  the  watch.  But  Mr.  Bhaer  looked  perfectly  in- 
nocent, and  went  on  glancing  from  one  young  face  to 
another,  with  a  grave,  wistful  look,  that  said  much  to 
his  wife,  who  knew  how  earnestly  he  desired  to  do  his 
duty  in  these  little  garden  plots. 

"  As  I  tell  you,  some  of  these  beds  were  easy  to  cul- 
tivate, —  that  means  to  take  care  of,  Daisy,  —  and  others 
were  very  hard.  There  was  one  particularly  sunshiny 
little  bed,  that  might  have  been  full  of  fruits  and  vege- 
tables as  well  as  flowers,  only  it  wouldn't  take  any  pains, 
and  when  the  man  sowed,  well,  we  '11  say  melons  in  this 
bed,  they  came  to  nothing,  because  the  little  bed  neg- 
lected them.  The  man  was  sorry,  and  kept  on  trying, 
though  every  time  the  crop  failed,  all  the  bed  said,  was, 
1 1  forgot.'" 

Here  a  general  laugh  broke  out.  and  every  one  looked 


SUNDAY.  45 

at  Tommy,  who  had  pricked  up  his  ears  at  the  word 
"  melons,"  and  hung  down  his  head  at  the  sound  of  his 
favorite  excuse. 

"  I  knew  he  meant  us ! "  cried  Demi,  clapping  his 
hands.  "  You  are  the  man,  and  we  are  the  little  gar- 
dens ;  aren't  we,  Uncle  Fritz  ?  " 

"  You  have  guessed  it.  Now  each  of  you  tell  me 
what  crop  I  shall  try  to  sow  in  you  this  spring,  so  that 
next  autumn  I  may  get  a  good  harvest  out  of  my 
twelve,  no,  thirteen,  plots,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer,  nodding  at 
Nat  as  he  corrected  himself. 

"You  can't  sow  corn  and  beans  and  peas  in  us. 
Unless  you  mean  we  are  to  eat  a  great  many  and  get 
fat,"  said  Stuffy,  with  a  sudden  brightening  of  his 
round,  dull  face  as  the  pleasing  idea  occurred  to  him. 

"He  don't  mean  that  kind  of  seeds.  He  means 
things  to  make  us  good ;  and  the  weeds  are  faults," 
cried  Demi,  who  usually  took  the  lead  in  these  talks, 
because  he  was  used  to  this  sort  of  thing,  and  liked  it 
very  much. 

"  Yes,  each  of  you  think  what  you  need  most,  and 
tell  me,  and  I  will  help  you  to  grow  it ;  only,  you  must 
do  your  best,  or  you  will  turn  out  like  Tommy's  melons — 
all  leaves  and  no  fruit.  I  will  begin  with  the  oldest, 
and  ask  the  mother  what  she  will  have  in  her  plot,  for 
we  are  all  parts  of  the  beautiful  garden,  and  may  have 
rich  harvests  for  our  Master  if  we  love  Him  enough," 
said  Father  Bhaer. 

"  I  shall  devote  the  whole  of  my  plot  to  the  largest 
crop  of  patience  I  can  get,  for  that  is  what  I  need  most," 
said  Mrs.  Jo,  so  soberly  that  the  lads  fell  to  thinking  in 
good  earnest  what  they  should  say  when  their  turns 


46  LITTLE  MEN. 

came,  and  some  among  them  felt  a  t wingc  of  remorse, 
that  they  had  helped  to  use  up  Mother  Bhaer's  stock  of 
patience  so  fast. 

Franz  wanted  perseverance,  Tommy  steadiness,  Ned 
went  in  for  good  temper,  Daisy  for  industry,  Demi  for 
"  as  much  wiseness  as  grandpa,"  and  Nat  timidly  said 
he  wanted  so  many  things  he  would  let  Mr.  Bhaer 
choose  for  him.  The  others  chose  much  the  same 
things,  and  patience,  good  temper,  and  generosity 
seemed  the  favorite  crops.  One  boy  wished  to  like  to 
get  up  early,  but  did  not  know  what  name  to  give  that 
sort  of  seed  ;  and  poor  Stuffy  sighed  out  — 

"  I  wish  I  loved  my  lessons  as  much  as  I  do  my  din- 
ner, but  I  can't." 

"  We  will  plant  self-denial,  and  hoe  it  and  water  it, 
and  make  it  grow  so  well  that  next  Christmas  no  one 
will  get  ill  by  eating  too  much  dinner.  If  you  exercise 
your  mind,  George,  it  will  get  hungry  just  as  your  body 
does,  and  you  will  love  books  almost  as  much  as  my 
philosopher  here,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer;  adding,  as  he 
stroked  the  hair  off  Demi's  fine  forehead,  "You  are 
greedy  also,  my  son,  and  you  like  to  stuff  your  little 
mind  full  of  fairy  tales  and  fancies,  as  well  as  George 
likes  to  fill  his  little  stomach  with  cake  and  candy. 
Both  are  bad,  and  I  want  you  to  try  something  better. 
Arithmetic  is  not  half  so  pleasant  as  '  Arabian  Xights,' 
I  know,  but  it  is  a  very  useful  thing,  and  now  is  the 
time  to  learn  it,  else  you  will  be  ashamed  and  sorry  by 
and  by." 

"  But,  *  Harry  and  Lucy,'  and  '  Frank,'  are  not  fairy 
books,  and  they  are  all  full  of  barometers,  and  bricks, 
and  shoeing  horses,  and  useful  things,  and  I  'm  fond  of 


SUNDAY.  47 

them ;  ain't  I,  Daisy  ? "  said  Demi,  anxious  to  defend 
himself. 

"  So  they  are ;  but  I  find  you  reading  i  Roland  and 
Maybird '  a  great  deal  oftener  than  4  Harry  and  Lucy,' 
and  I  think  you  are  not  half  as  fond  of  '  Frank '  as  yo*ii 
are  of  4  Sinbad.'  Come,  I  shall  make  a  little  bargain 
with  you  both,  —  George  shall  eat  but  three  times  a 
day,  and  you  shall  read  but  one  story  book  a  week,  and 
I  will  give  you  the  new  cricket-ground  ;  only,  you  must 
promise  to  play  in  it,"  said  Uncle  Fritz  in  his  persuasive 
way,  for  Stuffy  hated  to  run  about,  and  Demi  was 
always  reading  in  play  hours. 

"  But  we  don't  like  cricket,"  said  Demi. 

"  Perhaps  not  now,  but  you  will  when  you  know  it. 
Besides,  you  do  like  to  be  generous,  and  the  other  boys 
want  to  play,  and  you  can  give  them  the  new  ground  if 
you  choose." 

This  was  taking  them  both  on  the  right  side,  and 
they  agreed  to  the  bargain,  to  the  great  satisfaction  of 
the  rest. 

There  was  a  little  more  talk  about  the  gardens,  and 
then  they  all  sang  together.  The  band  delighted  Nat, 
for  Mrs.  Bhaer  played  the  piano,  Franz  the  flute,  Mr. 
Bhaer  a  bass  viol,  and  he  himself  the  violin.  A  very 
simple  little«concert,  but  all  seemed  to  enjoy  it,  and  old 
Asia,  sitting  in  the  corner,  joined  at  times  with  the 
sweetest  voice  of  any,  for  in  this  family,  master  and 
servant,  old  and  young,  black  and  white,  shared  in  the 
Sunday  song,  which  went  up  to  the  Father  of  them 
all.  After  this  they  each  shook  hands  with  Father 
Bhaer ;  Mother  Bhaer  kissed  them  every  one  from  six- 
teen-year old  Franz  to  little  Rob,  who  kept  the  tip  of 


48  LITTLE  MEN. 

her  nose  for  his  own  particular  kisses,  and  then  they 
trooped  up  to  bed. 

The  light  of  the  shaded  lamp  that  burned  in  the 
nursery  shone  softly  on  a  picture  hanging  at  the  foot  of 
Nat's  bed.  There  were  several  others  on  the  walls, 
but  the  boy  thought  there  must  be  something  pecu- 
liar about  this  one,  for  it  had  a  graceful  frame  of 
moss  and  cones  about  it,  and  on  a  little  bracket  under- 
neath stood  a  vase  of  wild  flowers  freshly  gathered 
from  the  spring  woods.  It  was  the  most  beautiful 
picture  of  them  all,  and  Nat  lay  looking  at  it  dimly 
feeling  what  it  meant,  and  wishing  he  knew  all  about  it. 

"  That 's  my  picture,"  said  a  little  voice  in  the  room. 
Nat  popped  up  his  head,  and  there  was  Demi  in  his 
night-gown  pausing  on  his  way  back  from  Aunt  Jo's 
chamber,  whither  he  had  gone  to  get  a  cot  for  a  cut 
finger. 

"  What  is  he  doing  to  the  children  ?  "  asked  Nat. 

"  That  is  Christ,  the  Good  Man,  and  He  is  blessing 
the  children.  Don't  you  know  about  Him  ? "  said 
Demi,  wondering. 

"Not  much,  but  I'd  like  to,  He  looks  so  kind," 
answered  Nat,  whose  chief  knowledge  of  the  Good 
Man  consisted  in  hearing  His  name  taken  in  vain. 

"  I  know  all  about  it,  and  I  like  it  very  much,  because 
it  is  true,"  said  Demi. 

"  Who  told  you  ?  " 

"My  Grandpa,  he  knows  every  thing,  and  tells  the 
best  stories  in  the  world.  I  used  to  play  with  his  big 
books,  and  make  bridges,  and  railroads,  and  houses, 
when  I  was  a  little  boy,"  began  Demi. 

"  How  old  are  you  now  ?  "  asked  Nat,  respectfully. 


SUNDAY.  49 

« 'Most  ten." 

"  You  know  a  lot  of  things,  don't  you  ?  " 

"  Yes ;  you  see  my  head  is  pretty  big,  and  Grandpa 
says  it  will  take  a  good  deal  to  fill  it,  SQ  I  keep  putting 
pieces  of  wisdom  into  it  as  fast  as  I  can,"  returned 
Demi,  in  his  quaint  way. 

Nat  laughed,  and  then  said  soberly — 

"  Tell  on,  please." 

And  Demi  gladly  told  on  without  pause  or  punctua- 
tion. "  I  found  a  very  pretty  book  one  day  and  wanted 
to  play  with  it,  but  Grandpa  said  I  mustn't,  and  showed 
me  the  pictures,  and  told  me  about  them,  and  I  liked 
the  stories  very  much,  all  about  Joseph  and  his  bad 
brothei*s,  and  the  frogs  that  came  up  out  of  the  sea, 
and  dear  little  Moses  in  the  water,  and  ever  so  many 
more  lovely  ones,  but  I  liked  about  the  Good  Man  best 
of  all,  and  Grandpa  told  it  to  me  so  many  times  that  I 
learned  it  by  heart,  and  lie  gave  me  this  picture  so 
I  shouldn't  forget,  and  it  was  put  up  here  once  when 
I  was  sick,  and  I  left  it  for  other  sick  boys  to  see." 

"What  makes  Him  bless  the  children?"  asked  Nat, 
who  found  something  very  attractive  in  the  chief  figure 
of  the  group. 

"  Because  He  loved  them." 

"  Were  they  poor  children  ?  "  asked  Nat,  wistfully. 

"  Yes,  I  think  so ;  you  see  some  haven't  got  hardly 
any  clothes  on,  and  the  mothers  don't  look  like  rich 
ladies.  He  liked  poor  people,  and  was  very  good  to 
them.  He  made  them  well,  and  helped  them,  and  told 
rich  people  they  must  not  be  cross  to  them,  and  they 
loved  Him  dearly,  dearly,"  cried  Demi  with  enthu- 
siasm. 

4 


50  LITTLE  MEN. 

"Was  He  rich?" 

"  Oh  no !  He  was  born  in  a  barn,  and  was  so  poor  He 
hadn't  any  house  to  live  in  when  He  grew  up,  and 
nothing  to  eat  sometimes,  but  what  people  gave  Him, 
and  He  went  round  preaching  to  everybody,  and  try- 
ing to  make  them  good,  till  the  bad  men  killed  Him." 

"  What  for  ?  "  and  Nat  sat  up  in  his  bed  to  look  and 
listen,  so  interested  was  he  in  this  man  who  cared  for 
the  poor  so  much. 

"  I  '11  tell  you  all  about  it ;  Aunt  Jo  won't  mind  ; " 
and  Demi  settled  himself  on  the  opposite  bed,  glad  to 
tell  his  favorite  story  to  so  good  a  listener. 

Nursey  peeped  in  to  see  if  Nat  was  asleep,  but  when 
she  saw  what  was  going  on,  she  slipped  away  again, 
and  went  to  Mrs.  Bhaer,  saying  with  her  kind  face  full 
of  motherly  emotion  — 

"  Will  the  dear  lady  come  anfl  see  a  pretty  sight  ? 
It' s  Nat  listening  with  all  his  heart  to  Demi  telling 
the  story  of  the  Christ-child,  like  a  little  wlrte  angel 
as  he  is." 

Mrs.  Bhaer  had  meant  to  go  and  talk  with  Nat  a 
moment  before  he  slept,  for  she  had  found  that  a  serious 
word  spoken  at  this  time  often  did  much  good.  But 
when  she  stole  to  the  nursery  door,  and  saw  Nat  eager- 
ly drinking  in  the  words  of  his  little  friend,  while  Demi 
told  the  sweet  and  solemn  story  as  it  had  been  taught 
him,  speaking  softly  as  he  sat  with  his  beautiful  eyes 
fixed  on  the  tender  face  above  them,  her  own  filled 
with  tears,  and  she  went  silently  away,  thinking  to  her- 
self— 

"  Demi  is  unconsciously  helping  the  poor  boy  better 
than  I  can ;  I  will  not  spoil  it  by  a  single  word." 


SUNDAY.  51 

The  murmur  of  the  childish  voice  went  on  for  a  long 
time,  as  one  innocent  heart  preached  that  great  sermon 
to  another,  and  no  one  hushed  it.  When  it  ceased  at 
last,  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  went  to  take  away  the  lamp,  Demi 
was  gone  and  Nat  fast  asleep,  lying  with  his  face  to- 
ward the  picture,  as  if  he  had  already  learned  to  love 
the  Good  Man  who  loved  little  children,  and  was  a 
faithful  friend  to  the  poor.  The  boy's  face  was  very 
placid,  and  as  she  looked  at  it  she  felt  that  if  a  single 
day  of  care  and  kindness  had  done  so  much,  a  year  of 
patient  cultivation  would  surely  bring  a  grateful  harvest 
from  this  neglected  garden,  which  was  already  sown 
with  the  best  of  all  seed  by  the  little  missionary  in  the 
night-gown. 


CHAPTER    IV. 

STEPPING-STONES. 

WHEN"  Nat  went  into  school  on  Monday  morning, 
he  quaked  inwardly,  for  now  he  thought  he 
should  have  to  display  his  ignorance  before  them  all. 
But  Mr.  Bhaer  gave  him  a  seat  in  the  deep  window, 
where  he  could  turn  his  back  on  the  others,  and  Franz 
heard  him  say  his  lessons  there,  so  no  one  could  hear 
his  blunders  or  see  how  he  blotted  his  copy-book.  He 
was  truly  grateful  for  this,  and  toiled  away  so  diligently 
that  Mr.  Bhaer  said,  smiling,  when  he  saw  his  hot  face 
and  inky  fingers  — 

a  Don't  work  so  hard,  my  boy ;  you  will  tire  yourself 
out,  and  there  is  time  enough." 

"  But  I  must  work  hard,  or  I  can't  catch  up  with  the 
others.  They  know  heaps,  and  I  don't  know  any  thing," 
said  Nat,  who  had  been  reduced  to  a  state  of  despair 
by  hearing  the  boys  recite  their  grammar,  history,  and 
geography  with  what  he  thought  amazing  ease  and 
accuracy. 

"  You  know  a  good  many  things  which  they  don't," 
said  Mr.  Bhaer,  sitting  down  beside  him,  while  Franz 
led  a  class  of  small  students  through  the  intricacies  of 
the  multiplication  table. 


STEPPING-STONES.  53 

"  Do  I  ?  "  and  Nat  looked  utterly  incredulous. 

"  Yes ;  for  one  thing,  you  can  keep  your  temper,  and 
Jack,  who  is  quick  at  numbers,  cannot ;  that  is  an  excel- 
lent lesson,  and  I  think  you  have  learned  it  well.  Then, 
you  can  play  the  violin,  and  not  one  of  the  lads  can, 
though  they  want  to  do  it  very  much.  But,  best  of  all, 
Nat,  you  really  care  to  learn  something,  and  that  is  half 
the  battle.  It  seems  hard  at  first,  and  you  will  feel  dis- 
couraged, but  plod  away,  and  things  will  get  easier  and 
easier  as  you  go  on." 

Nat's  face  had  brightened  more  and  more  as  he 
listened,  for,  small  as  the  list  of  his  learning  was,  it 
cheered  him  immensely  to  feel  that  he  had  any  thing  to 
fall  back  upon.  "  Yes,  I  can  keep  my  temper — father's 
beating  taught  me  that;  and  I  can  fiddle,  though  I 
don't  know  where  the  Bay  of  Biscay  is,"  he  thought, 
with  a  sense  of  comfort  impossible  to  express.  Then 
he  said  aloud,  and  so  earnestly  that  Demi  heard  him — 

"  I  do  want  to  learn,  and  I  will  try.  I  never  went  to 
school,  but  I  couldn't  help  it ;  and  if  the  fellows  don't 
laugh  at  me,  I  guess  I  '11  get  on  first  rate  —  you  and  the 
lady  are  so  good  to  me." 

«  They  shan't  laugh  at  you ;  if  they  do,  I  '11  —  I  '11  — 
tell  them  not  to,"  cried  Demi,  quite  forgetting  where 
he  was. 

The  class  stopped  in  the  middle  of  7  times  9,  and 
every  one  looked  up  to  see  what  was  going  on. 

Thinking  that  a  lesson  in  learning  to  help  one  another 
was  better  than  arithmetic  just  then,  Mr.  Bhaer  told 
them  about  Nat,  making  such  an  interesting  and  touch- 
ing little  story  out  of  it  that  the  good-hearted  lads  all 
promised  to  lend  him  a  hand,  and  felt  quite  honored  to 


54  LITTLE  MEN. 

be  called  upon  to  impart  their  stores  of  wisdom  to  the 
chap  who  fiddled  so  capitally.  This  appeal  estab- 
lished the  right  feeling  among  them,  and  Nat  had  few 
hindrances  to  struggle  against,  for  every  one  was  glad 
to  give  him  a  "  boost "  up  the  ladder  of  learning. 

Till  he  was  stronger,  much  study  was  not  good  for 
him,  however,'  and  Mrs.  Jo  found  various  amusements 
in  the  house  for  him  while  others  were  at  their  books. 
But  his  garden  was  his  best  medicine,  and  he  worked 
away  like  a  beaver,  preparing  his  little  farm,  sowing  his 
beans,  watching  eagerly  to  see  them  grow,  and  rejoicing 
over  each  green  leaf  and  slender  stalk  that  shot  up  and 
flourished  in  the  warm  spring  weather.  Never  was  a 
garden  more  faithfully  hoed ;  Mr.  Bhaer  really  feared 
that  nothing  would  find  time  to  grow,  Nat  kept  up  such 
a  stirring  of  the  soil ;  so  he  gave  him  easy  jobs  in  the 
flower  garden  or  among  the  strawberries,  where  he 
worked  and  hummed  as  busily  as  the  bees  booming  all 
about  him. 

"  This  is  the  crop  I  like  best,"  Mrs.  Bhaer  used  to  say, 
as  she  pinched  the  once  thin  cheeks  now  getting  plump 
and  ruddy,  or  stroked  the  bent  shoulders  that  were 
slowly  straightening  up  with  healthful  work,  good  food, 
and  the  absence  of  that  heavy  burden,  poverty. 

Demi  was  his  little  friend,  Tommy  his  patron,  and 
Daisy  the  comforter  of  all  his  woes ;  for,  though  the 
children  were  younger  than  he,  his  timid  spirit  found  a 
pleasure  in  their  innocent  society,  and  rather  shrunk 
from  the  rough  sports  of  the  elder  lads.  $Lr.  Laurence 
did  not  forget  him,  but  sent  clothes  and  books,  music 
and  kind  messages,  and  now  and  then  came  out  to  see 
how  his  boy  was  getting  on,  or  took  him  into  town  to  a 


STEPPING-STONES.  55 

concert ;  on  which  occasions  Nat  felt  himself  translated 
into  the  seventh  heaven  of  bliss,  for  he  went  to  Mr. 
Laurence's  great  house,  saw  his  pretty  wife  and  little 
fairy  of  a  daughter,  had  a  good  dinner,  and  was  made 
so  comfortable,  that  he  talked  and  dreamed  of  it  for 
days  and  nights  afterward. 

It  takes  so  little  to  make  a  child  happy,  that  it  is  a 
pity  in  a  world  full  of  sunshine  and  pleasant  things,  that 
there  should  be  any  wistful  faces,  empty  hands,  or  lonely 
little  hearts.  Feeling  this,  the  Bhners  gathered  up  all 
the  crumbs  they  could  find  to  feed  their  flock  of 
hungry  sparrows,  for  they  were  not  rich,  except  in 
charity.  Many  of  Mrs.  Jo's  friends  who  had  nurseries 
sent  her  the  toys  of  which  their  children  so  soon  tired, 
and  in  mending  these  Nat  found  an  employment  that 
just  suited  him.  He  was  very  neat  and  skilful  with 
those  slender  fingers  of  his,  and  passed  many  a  rainy 
afternoon  with  his  gum-bottle,  paint-box,  and  knife, 
repairing  furniture,  animals,  and  games,  while  Daisy 
was  dressmaker  to  the  dilapidated  dolls.  As  fast  as  the 
toys  were  mended,  they  were  put  carefully  away  in  a 
certain  drawer  which  was  to  furnish  forth  a  Christmas- 
tree  for  all  the  poor  children  of  the  neighborhood,  that 
being  the  way  the  Plumfield  boys  celebrated  the  birth- 
day of  Him  who  loved  the  poor  and  blessed  the  little 
ones. 

Demi  was  never  tired  of  reading  and  explaining  his 
favorite  books,  and  many  a  pleasant  hour  did  they 
spend  in  the  old  willow,  revelling  over  "Robinson 
Crusoe,"  "  Arabian  Nights,"  "  Edgeworth's  Tales,"  and 
the  other  dear  immortal  stories  that  will  delight  chil- 
dren for  centuries  to  come.  This  opened  a  new  world 


56  LITTLE  MEN. 

to  Nat,  and  his  eagerness  to  see  what  came  next  in  the 
story  helped  him  on  till  he  could  read  as  well  as  any- 
body, and  felt  so  rich  and  proud  with  his  new  accom- 
plishment, that  there  was  danger  of  his  being  as  much 
of  a  bookworm  as  Demi. 

Another  helpful  tiling  happened  in  a  most  unexpected 
and  agreeable  manner.  Several  of  the  boys  were  "  in 
business,"  as  they  called  it,  for  most  of  them  were  poor, 
and  knowing  that  they  would  have  their  own  way  to 
make  by  and  by,  the  Bhaers  encouraged  any  efforts  at 
independence.  Tommy  sold  his  eggs ;  Jack  speculated 
in  live  stock ;  Franz  helped  in  the  teaching,  and  was 
paid  for  it ;  Ned  had  a  taste  for  carpentry,  and  a  turn- 
ing-lathe was  set  up  for  him  in  which  he  turned  all  sorts 
of  useful  or  pretty  things,  and  sold  them ;  while  Demi 
constructed  water-mills,  whirligigs,  and  unknown  ma- 
chines of  an  intricate  and  useless  nature,  and  disposed 
of  them  to  the  boys. 

"  Let  him  be  a  mechanic  if  he  likes,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer. 
u  Give  a  boy  a  trade,  and  he  is  independent.  Work  is 
wholesome,  and  whatever  talent  these  lads  possess,  be  it 
for  poetry  or  ploughing,  it  shall  be  cultivated  and 
made  useful  to  them  if  possible." 

So  when  Nat  came  running  to  him  one  day  to  ask 
with  an  excited  face  — 

"Can  I  go  and  fiddle  for  some  people  who  are  to 
have  a  pic-nic  in  our  woods  ?  They  will  pay  me,  and 
I'd  like  to  earn  some  money  as  the  other  boys  do,  and 
fiddling  is  the  only  way  I  know  how  to  do  it,"  — 

Mr.  Bhaer  answered  readily  — 

"Go,  and  welcome.  It  is  an  easy  and  a  pleasant 
way  to  work,  and  I  am  glad  it  is  offered  you." 


STEPPING-STONES.  57 

Nat  went,  and  did  so  well,  that  when  he  came  home 
he  had  two  dollars  in  his  pocket,  which  he  displayed 
with  intense  satisfaction,  as  he  told  how  much  he  had 
enjoyed  the  afternoon,  how  kind  the  young  people 
were,  and  how  they  had  praised  his  dance-music,  and 
promised  to  have  him  again. 

"  It  is  so  much  nicer  than  fiddling  in  the  street,  for 
then  I  got  none  of  the  money,  and  now  I  have  it  all, 
and  a  good  time  besides.  I  'm  in  business  now  as  well 
as  Tommy  and  Jack,  and  I  like  it  ever  so  much,"  said 
Nat,  proudly  patting  the  old  pocket-book,  and  feeling 
like  a  millionnaire  already. 

He  was  in  business  truly,  for  pic-nics  were  plenty  as 
summer  opened,  and  Nat's  skill  was  in  great  depiand. 
He  was  always  at  liberty  to  go  if  lessons  were  not  neg- 
lected, and  if  the  pic-nics  were  respectable  young  peo- 
ple. For  Mr.  Bhaer  explained  to  him  that  a  good 
plain  education  is  necessary  for  every  one,  and  that  no 
amount  of  money  should  hire  him  to  go  where  he 
might  be  tempted  to  do  wrong.  Nat  quite  agreed  to 
this,  and  it  was  a  pleasant  sight  to  see  the  innocent- 
hearted  lad  go  driving  away  in  the  gay  wagons  that 
stopped  at  the  gate  for  him,  or  to  hear  him  come  fid- 
dling home  tired  but  happy,  with  his  well-earned 
money  in  one  pocket,  and  some  "goodies"  from  the 
feast  for  Daisy  or  little  Ted,  whom  he  never  forgot. 

"  I  'm  going  to  save  up  till  I  get  enough  to  buy  a 
violin  for  myself,  and  then  I  can  earn  my  own  living, 
can't  I  ? "  he  used  to  say,  as  he  brought  his  dollars  to 
Mr.  Bhaer  to  keep. 

"  I  hope  so,  Nat ;  but  we  must  get  you  strong  and 
hearty  first,  and  put  a  little  more  knowledge  into  this 


58  LITTLE  MEN. 

musical  head  of  yours.  Then  Mr.  Laurie  will  find  you 
a  place  somewhere,  and  in  a  few  years  we  will  all  come 
to  hear  you  play  in  public." 

With  much  congenial  work,  encouragement,  and 
hope,  Nat  found  life  getting  easier  and  happier  every 
day,  and  made  such  progress  in  his  music  lessons,  that 
his  teacher  forgave  his  slowness  in  some  other  things, 
knowing  very  well  that  where  the  heart  is  the  mind 
works  best.  The  only  punishment  the  boy  ever  needed 
for  neglect  of  more  important  lessons  was  to  hang 'up 
the  fiddle  and  the  bow  for  a  day.  The  fear  of  losing 
his  bosom  friend  entirely  made  him  go  at  his  books 
with  a  will ;  and  having  proved  that  he  could  master 
the  lessons,  what  was  the  use  of  saying  "  I  can't "  ? 

Daisy  had  a  great  love  of  music,  and  a  great  rever- 
ence for  any  one  who  could  make  it,  and  she  was  often 
found  sitting  on  the  stairs  outside  Nat's  door  while 
he  was  practising.  This  pleased  him  very  much,  and  he 
played  his  best  for  that  one  quiet  little  listener ;  for  she 
never  would  come  in,  but  preferred  to  sit  sewing  her 
gay  patchwork,  or  tending  one  of  her  many  dolls,  with 
an  expression  of  dreamy  pleasure  on  her  face  that  made 
Aunt  Jo  say,  with  tears  in  her  eyes,  — 

44  So  like  my  Beth,"  and  go  softly  by,  lest  even  her 
familiar  presence  mar  the  child's  sweet  satisfaction. 

Nat  was  very  fond  of  Mrs.  Bhaer,  but  found  some- 
thing even  more  attractive  in  the  good  professor,  who 
took  fatherly  care  of  the  shy  feeble  boy,  who  had 
barely  escaped  with  his  life  from  the  rough  sea  on 
which  his  little  boat  had  been  tossing  rudderless  for 
twelve  years.  Some  good  angel  must  have  watched 
oyer  him,  for,  though  his  body  had  suffered,  his  soul 


STEPPING-STONES.  59 

seemed  to  have  taken  little  harm,  and  came  ashore  as 
innocent  as  a  shipwrecked  baby.  Perhaps  his  love  of 
music  kept  it  sweet  in  spite  of  the  discord  all  about 
him ;  Mr.  Laurie  said  so,  and  he  ought  to  know.  How- 
ever that  might  be,  Father  Bhaer  took  real  pleasure  in 
fostering  poor  Nat's  virtues,  and  in  curing  his  faults, 
finding  his  new  pupil  as  docile  and  affectionate  as  a 
girl.  He  often  called  Nat  his  "  daughter  "  when  speak- 
ing of  him  to^  Mrs.  Joe,  and  she  used  to  laugh  at  his 
fancy,  for  Madame  liked  manly  boys,  and  thought  Nat 
amiable  but  weak,  though  you  never  would  have 
guessed  it,  for  she  petted  him  as  she  did  Daisy,  and  he 
thought  her  a  very  delightful  woman. 

One  fault  of  Nat's  gave  the  Bhaers  much  anxiety, 
although  they  saw  how  it  had  been  strengthened  by 
fear  and  ignorance.  I  regret  to  say  that  Nat  some- 
times told  lies.  Not  very  black  ones,  seldom  getting 
deeper  than  gray,  and  often  the  mildest  of  white  fibs ; 
but  that  did  not  matter,  a  lie  is  a  lie,  and  though  we  all 
tell  many  polite  untruths  in  this  queer  world  of  ours, 
it  is  not  right,  and  everybody  knows  it. 

"  You  cannot  be  too  careful ;  watch  your  tongue,  and 
eyes,  and  hands,  for  it  is  easy  to  tell,  and  look,  and  act 
untruth,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer,  in  one  of  the  talks  he  had 
with  Nat  ^bout  his  chief  temptation. 

"  I  know  it,  and  I  don't  mean  to,  but  it 's  so  much 
easier  to  get  along  if  you  ain't  very  fussy  about  being 
exactly  true.  I  used  to  tell  'em  because  I  was  afraid 
of  father  and  Nicolo,  and  now  I  do  sometimes  because 
the  boys  laugh  at  me.  I  know  it 's  bad,  but  I  forget," 
and  Nat  looked  much  depressed  by  his  sins. 

"  When  I  was  a  little  lad  I  used  to  tell  lies !    Ach ! 


60  LITTLE  MEN. 

what  fibs  they  were,  and  my  old  grandmother  cured  me 
of  it  —  how,  do  you  think  ?  My  parents  had  talked,  and 
cried,  and  punished,  but  still  did  I  forget  as  you.  Then 
said  the  dear  old  grandmother,  'I  shall  help  you  to 
remember,  and  put  a  check  on  this  unruly  part,'  with 
that  she  drew  out  my  tongue  and  snipped  the  end 
with  her  scissors  till  the  blood  ran.  That  was  terrible, 
you  may  believe,  but  it  did  me  much  good,  because  it 
was  sore  for  days,  and  every  word  I  said  came  so  slowly 
that  I  had  time  to  think.  After  that  I  was  more  care- 
ful, and  got  on  better,  for  I  feared  the  big  scissors. 
Yet  the  dear  grandmother  was  most  kind  to  me  in  all 
things,  and  when  she  lay  dying  far  away  in  Nuremburg, 
she  prayed  that  little  Fritz  might  love  God  and  tell  the 
truth." 

"  I  never  had  any  grandmothers,  but  if  you  think  it 
will  cure  me,  I  '11  let  you  snip  my  tongue,"  said  Nat 
heroically,  for  he  dreaded  pain,  yet  did  wish  to  stop 
fibbing. 

Mr.  Bhaer  smiled,  but  shook  his  head. 

"  I  have  a  better  way  than  that,  I  tried  it  once  before 
and  it  worked  well.  See  now,  when  you  tell  a  lie  I 
will  not  punish  you,  but  you  shall  punish  me.." 

"  How?  "  asked  Nat,  startled  at  the  idea. 

"  You  shall  ferule  me  in  the  good  old-fashioned  way ; 
I  seldom  do  it  myself,  but  it  may  make  you  remember 
better  to  give  me  pain  than  to  feel  it  yourself" 

"  Strike  you  ?     Oh,  I  couldn't !  "  cried  Nat. 

"  Then  mind  that  tripping  tongue  of  thine.  I  have 
no  wish  to  be  hurt,  but  I  would  gladly  bear  much  pain 
to  cure  this  fault." 

This  suggestion  made  such  an  impression  on  Nat, 


STEPPING-STONES.  61 

that  for  a  long  time  he  set  a  watch  upon  his  lips,  and 
was  desperately  accurate,  for  Mr.  Bhaer  judged  rightly, 
that  love  of  him  would  be  more  powerful  with  Nat  than 
fear  for  himself.  But  alas !  one  sad  day  Nat  was  off 
his  guard,  and  when  peppery  Emil  threatened  to  thrash 
him,  if  it  was  he  who  had  run  over  his  garden  and 
broken  down  his  best  hills  of  corn,  Nat  declared  he 
didn't,  and  then  was  ashamed  to  own  up  that  he  did  do 
it,  when  Jack  was  chasing  him  the  night  before. 

He  thought  no  one  would  find  it  out,  but  Tommy 
happened  to  see  him,  and  when  Emil  spoke  of  it  a  day 
or  two  later,  Tommy  gave  his  evidence,  and  Mr.  Bhaer 
heard  it.  School  was  over,  and  they  were  all  standing 
about  in  the  hall,  and  Mr.  Bhaer  had  just  sat  down  on 
the  straw  settee,  to  enjoy  his  frolic  with  Teddy ;  but 
when  he  heard  Tommy,  and  saw  Nat  turn  scarlet,  and 
look  at  him  with  a  frightened  face,  he  put  the  little  boy 
down,  saying,  "  Go  to  thy  mother,  biibchen,  I  will  come 
soon,"  and  taking  Nat  by  the  hand  led  him  into  the 
school,  and  shut  the  door. 

The  boys  looked  at  one  another  in  silence  for  a 
minute,  then  Tommy  slipped  out  and  peeping  in  at  the 
half-closed  blinds,  beheld  a  sight  that  quite  bewildered 
him.  Mr  Bhaer  had  just  taken  down  the  long  rule  that 
hung  over  his  desk,  so  seldom  used  that  it  was  covered 
with  dust. 

"My  eye!  he's  going  to  come  down  heavy  on  Nat 
this  time.  Wish  I  hadn't  told,"  thought  good-natured 
Tommy,  for  to  be  feruled  was  the  deepest  disgrace  at 
this  school. 

"  You  remember  what  I  told  you  last  time  ?  "  said 
Mr.  Bhaer,  sorrowfully,  not  angrily. 


62  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Yes ;  but  please  don't  make  me,  I  can't  bear  it," 
cried  Nat,  backing  up  against  the  door  with  both  hands 
behind  him,  and  a  face  full  of  distress. 

"Why  don't  he  up  and  take  it  like  a  man?  I 
would,"  thought  Tommy,  though  his  heart  beat  fast  at 
the  sight. 

.  "  I  shall  keep  my  word,  and  you  must  remember  to 
tell  the  truth.  Obey  me,  Nat,  take  this  and  give  me 
six  good  strokes." 

Tommy  was  so  staggered  by  this  last  speech  that  he 
nearly  tumbled  down  the  bank,  but  saved  himself,  and 
hung  on  to  the  window  ledge,  staring  in  with  eyes  as 
round  as  the  stuffed  owl's  on  the  chimney-piece. 

Nat  took  the  rule,  for  when  Mr.  Bhaer  spoke  in  that 
tone  every  one  obeyed  him,  and,  looking  as  scare  1  and 
guilty  as  if  about  to  stab  his  master,  he  gave  two  feeble 
blows  on  the  broad  hand  held  out  to  him.  Then  he 
stopped  and  looked  up  half-blind  with  tears,  but  Mr. 
Bhaer  said  steadily, — 

"  Go  on,  and  strike  harder." 

As  if  seeing  that  it  must  be  done,  and  eager  to  have 
the  hard  task  soon  over,  Nat  drew  his  sleeve  across  his 
eyes  and  gave  two  more  quick  hard  strokes  that  red- 
dened the  hand,  yet  hurt  the  giver  more. 

"  Isn't  that  enough  ?  "  he  asked  in  a  breathless  sort 
of  tone. 

"  Two  more,"  was  all  the  answer,  and  he  gave  them, 
hardly  seeing  where  they  fell,  then  threw  the  rule  all 
across  the  room,  and  hugging  the  kind  hand  in  both  his 
own,  laid  his  face  down  on  it  sobbing  out  in  a  passion 
of  love,  and  shame,  and  penitence  — 

"  I  will  remember !     Oh !  I  will ! " 


STEPPING-STONES.  63 

Then  Mr.  Bhaer  put  an  arm  about  him,  and  said  in  a 
tone  as  compassionate  as  it  had  just  now  been  firm  — 

"  I  think  you  will.  Ask  the  dear  God  to  help  you, 
and  try  to  spare  us  both  another  scene  like  this." 

Tommy  saw  no  more,  for  he  crept  back  to  the  hall, 
looking  so  excited  and  sober  that  the  boys  crowded 
round  him  to  ask  what  was  being  done  to  Nat. 

In  a  most  impressive  whisper  Tommy  told  them,  and 
they  looked  as  if  the  sky  was  about  to  fall,  for  this 
reversing  the  order  of  things  almost  took  their  breath 
away. 

"  He  made  me  do  the  same  thing  once,"  said  Emil, 
as  if  confessing  a  crime  of  the  deepest  dye. 

"And  you  hit  him?  dear  old  Father  Bhaer?  By 
thunder,  I  'd  just  like  to  see  you  do  it  now  ! "  said  Ned, 
collaring  Emil  in  a  fit  of  righteous  wrath. 

"  It  was  ever  so  long  ago.  I  'd  rather  have  my  head 
cut  off  than  do  it  now,"  and  Emil  mildly  laid  Ned  on 
his  back  instead  of  cuffing  him,  as  he  would  have  felt  it 
his  duty  to  do  on  any  less  solemn  occasion. 

"  How  could  you  ?  "  said  Demi,  appalled  at  the  idea. 

"I  was  hopping  mad  at  the  time,  and  thought  I 
shouldn't  mind  a  bit,  rathfer  like  it  perhaps.  But  when 
,1  'd  hit  Uncle  one  good  crack,  every  thing  he  had  ever 
done  for  me  came  into  my  head  all  at  once  somehow, 
and  I  couldn't  go  on.  No,  sir !  if  he  'd  laid  me  down 
and  walked  on  me,  I  wouldn't  have  minded,  I  felt  so 
mean ; "  and  Emil  gave  himself  a  good  thump  in  the 
chest  to  express  his  sense  of  remorse  for  the  past. 

"  Nat 's  crying  like  any  thing,  and  feels  no  end  sorry, 
so  don't  let 's  say  a  word  about  it ;  will  we  ?  "  said 
tender-hearted  Tommy. 


64  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Of  course  we  won't,  but  it 's  awful  to  tell  lies,"  and 
Demi  looked  as  if  he  found  the  awfulness  much  in- 
creased when  the  punishment  fell  not  upon  the  sinner, 
but  his  best  Uncle  Fritz. 

"  Suppose  we  all  clear  out,  so  Nat  can  cut  up-stairs 
if  he  wants  to,"  proposed  Franz,  and  led  the  way  to  the 
barn,  their  refuge  in  troublous  times. 

Nat  did  not  come  to  dinner,  but  Mrs.  Jo  took  some 
up  to  him,  and  said  a  tender  word,  which  did  him  good, 
though  he  could  not  look  at  her.  By  and  by  the  lads 
playing  outside  heard  the  violin,  and  said  among  them- 
selves :  "  He 's  all  right  now."  He  was  all  right,  but 
felt  shy  about  going  down,  till,  opening  his  door  to  slip 
away  into  the  woods,  he  found  Daisy  sitting  on  the 
stairs  with  neither  work  nor  doll,  only  her  little  hand- 
kerchief in  her  hand,  as  if  she  had  been  mourning  for 
her  captive  friend. 

"  I  'm  going  to  walk ;  want  to  come  ? "  asked  Nat, 
trying  to  look  as  if  nothing  was  the  matter,  yet  feeling 
very  grateful  for  her  silent  sympathy,  because  he  fancied 
every  one  must  look  upon  him  as  a  wretch. 

"  Oh  yes ! n  and  Daisy  ran  for  her  hat,  proud  to  be 
chosen  as  a  companion  by  one  of  the  big  boys. 

The  others  saw  them  go,  but  no  one  followed,  for 
boys  have  a  great  deal  more  delicacy  than  they  get 
credit  for,  and  the  lads  instinctively  felt  that,  when  in 
disgrace,  gentle  little  Daisy  was  their  most  congenial 
friend. 

The  walk  did  Nat  good,  and  he  came  home  quieter 
than  usual,  but  looking  cheerful  again,  and  hung  all  over 
with  daisy-chains,  made  by  his  little  playmate  while  he 
lay  on  the  grass  and  told  her  stories. 


STEPPING-STONES.  65 

No  one  said  a  word  about  the  scene  of  the  morning, 
but  its  effect  was  all  the  more  lasting  for  that  reason, 
perhaps.  Nat  tried  his  very  best,  and  found  much  help, 
not  only  from  the  earnest  little  prayers  he  prayed  to 
his  Friend  in  heaven,  but  also  in  the  patient  care  of  the 
earthly  friend,  whose  kind  hand  he  never  touched  with- 
out remembering  that  it  had  willingly  borne  pain  for 
his  sake. 


CHAPTER    V. 
PATTY  PANS. 

« T  T7HAT 'S  the  matter,  Daisy ? " 

V  V      «  The  boys  won't  let  me  play  with  them." 

"Why  not?" 

"  They  say  girls  can't  play  foot-ball." 

"  They  can,  for  I  Ve  done  it ! "  and  Mrs.  Bhaer 
laughed  at  the  remembrance  of  certain  youthful  frolics. 

"  I  know  I  can  play ;  Demi  and  I  used  to,  and  have 
nice  times,  but  he  won't  let  me  now  because  the  other 
boys  laugh  at  him,"  and  Daisy  looked  deeply  grieved  at 
her  brother's  hardness  of  heart. 

u  On  the  whole,  I  think  he  is  right,  deary.  It 's  all 
very  well  when  you  two  are  alone,  but  it  is  too  rough  a 
game  for  you  with  a  dozen  boys ;  so  I  'd  find  some  nice 
little  play  for  myself." 

"  I  'm  tired  of  playing  alone ! "  and  Daisy's  tone  was 
very  mournful. 

"  111  play  with  you  by  and  by,  but  just  now  I  must 
fly  about  and  get  things  ready  for  a  trip  into  town. 
You  shall  go  with  me  and  see  mamma,  and  if  you  like 
you  can  stay  with  her." 

"  I  should  like  to  go  and  see  her  and  baby  Josy,  but 
I  'd  rather  come  back  please.  Demi  would  miss  me, 
and  I  love  to  be  here,  Aunty." 


PATTY  PANS.  67 

"  Yon  can't  get  on  without  your  Demi,  can  you  ?  " 
and  Aunt  Jo  looked  as  if  she  quite  understood  the  love 
of  the  little  girl  for  her  only  brother. 

"  'Course  I  can't ;  we  're  twins,  and  so  we  love  each 
other  more  than  other  people,"  answered  Daisy,  with  a 
brightening  face,  for  she  considered  being  a  twin  one  of 
the  highest  honors  she  could  ever  receive. 

"  Now,  what  will  you  do  with  your  little  self  while  I 
fly  round  ?  "  asked  Mrs.  Bhaer,  who  was  whisking  piles 
of  linen  into  a  wardrobe  with  great  rapidity. 

"  I  don't  know,  I  'm  tired  of.  dolls  and  things ;  I  wish 
you  'd  make  up  a  new  play  for  me,  Aunty  Jo,"  said 
Daisy,  swinging  listlessly  on  the  door. 

"  I  shall  have  to  think  of  a  bran  new  one,  and  it  will 
take  me  some  time  ;  so  suppose  you  go  down  and  see 
what  Asia  has  got  for  your  lunch,"  suggested  Mrs. 
Bhaer,  thinking  that  would  be  a  good  way  in  which  to 
dispose  of  the  little  hindrance  for  a  time. 

"  Yes,  I  think  I  'd  like  that,  if  she  isn't  cross,"  and 
Daisy  slowly  departed  to  the  kitchen,  where  Asia,  the 
black  cook,  reigned  undisturbed. 

In  five  minutes  Daisy  was  back  again,  with  a  wide- 
awake face,  a  bit  of  dough  in  her  hand  and  a  dab  of 
flour  on  her  little  nose. 

"  O  Aunty  !  please  could  I  go  and  make  gingersnaps 
and  things  ?  Asia  isn't  cross,  and  she  says  I  may,  and 
it  would  be  such  fun,  please  do,"  cried  Daisy,  all  in  one 
breath. 

"  Just  the  thing,  go  and  welcome,  make  what  you  like, 
and  stay  as  long  as  you  please,"  answered  Mrs.  Bhaer, 
much  relieved,  for  sometimes  the  one  little  girl  was 
harder  to  amuse  than  the  dozen  boys. 


68  LITTLE  MEN. 

Daisy  ran  off,  and  while  she  worked,  Aunt  Jo  racked 
her  brain  for  a  new  play.  All  of  a  sudden  she  seemed 
to  have  an  idea,  for  she  smiled  to  herself,  slammed  the 
doors  of  the  wardrobe,  and  walked  briskly  away,  say- 
ing, "  I  '11  do  it,  if  it 's  a  possible  thing !  " 

What  it  was  no  one  found  out  that  day,  but  Aunt 
Jo's  eyes  twinkled  so  when  she  told  Daisy  she  had 
thought  of  a  new  play,  and  was  going  to  buy  it,  that 
Daisy  was  much  excited  and  asked  questions  all  the 
way  into  town,  without  getting  answers  that  told  her 
any  thing.  She  was  left  at  home  to  play  with  the  new 
baby,  and  delight  her  mother's  eyes,  while  Aunt  Jo 
went  off  shopping.  When  she  came  back  with  all  sorts 
of  queer  parcels  in  corners  of  the  carry-all,  Daisy  was 
so  full  of  curiosity,  that  she  wanted  to  go  back  to  Plum- 
field  at  once.  But  her  aunt  would  not  be  hurried,  and 
made  a  long  call  in  mamma's  room,  sitting  on  the  floor 
with  baby  in  her  lap,  making  Mrs.  Brooke  laugh  at  the 
pranks  of  the  boys,  and  all  sorts  of  droll  nonsense. 

How  her  aunt  told  the  secret  Daisy  could  not  imagine, 
but  her  mother  evidently  knew  it,  for  she  said,  as  she 
tied  on  the  little  bonnet  and  kissed  the  rosy  little  face 
inside,  "  Be  a  good  child,  my  Daisy,  and  learn  the  nice 
new  play  Aunty  has  got  for  you.  It's  a  most  useful 
and  interesting  one,  and  it  is  very  kind  of  her  to  play 
it  with  you,  because  she  does  not  like  it  very  well  her- 
self" 

This  last  speech  made  the  two  ladies  laugh  heartily, 
and  increased  Daisy's  bewilderment.  As  they  drove 
away  something  rattled  in  the  back  of  the  carnage. 

"  What 's  that  ?  "  asked  Daisy,  pricking  up  her  ears. 

"  The  new  play,"  answered  Mrs.  Jo,  solemnly. 


PATTY  PANS.  69 

"  What  is  it  made  of  ?  "  cried  Daisy.     „ 

"  Iron,  tin,  wood,  brass,  sugar,  salt,  coal,  and  a  hun- 
dred other  things." 

"  How  strange !  what  color  is  it  ?  " 

"  All  sorts  of  colors." 

"  Is  it  large  ?  " 

"  Part  of  it  is,  and  a  part  isn't." 

"  Did  I  ever  see  one  ?  " 

"  Ever  so  many,  but  never  one  so  nice  as  this." 

"  Oh  !  what  can  it  be  ?  I  can't  wait.  When  shall  I 
,gee  it  ?  "  and  Daisy  bounced  up  and  down  with  impa- 
tience. 

"  To-morrow  morning,  after  lessons." 

"  Is  it  for  the  boys  too  ?  " 

'  "  No,  all  for  you  and  Bess.  The  boys  will  like  to  see 
it,  and  want  to  play  one  part  of  it.  But  you  can  do  as 
you  like  about  letting  them." 

"  I  '11  let  Demi,  if  he  wants  to." 

"  No  fear  that  they  won't  all  want  to,  especially 
Stuffy,"  and  Mrs.  Bhaer's  eyes  twinkled  more  than 
ever,  as  she  patted  a  queer  knobby  bundle  in  her  lap. 

"  Let  me  feel  just  once,"  prayed  Daisy. 
•    "  Not  a  feel ;  you  'd  guess  in  a  mmute  and  spoil  the 
fun." 

Daisy  groaned  and  then  smiled  all  over  her  face,  for 
through  a  little  hole  in  the  paper  she  caught  a  glimpse 
of  something  bright. 

"  How  can  I  wait  so  long  ?  Couldn't  I  see  it  to- 
day?" 

"  Oh  dear,  no !  it  has  got  to  be  arranged,  and  ever  so 
many  parts  fixed  in  their  places.  I  promised  Uncle 
Teddy  that  you  shouldn't  see  it  till  it  was  all  in  apple- 
pie  order." 


70  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  If  Uncle  knows  about  it  then  it  must  be  splendid  !  " 
cried  Daisy,  clapping  her  hands ;  for  this  kind,  rich, 
jolly  uncle  of  hers  was  as  good  as  a  fairy  god-mother 
to  the  children,  and  was  always  planning  merry  sur- 
prises, pretty  gifts,  and  droll  amusements  for  them. 

"  Yes ;  Teddy  went  and  bought  it  with  me,  and  we 
had  such  fun  in  the  shop  choosing  the  different  parts. 
He  would  have  every  thing  fine  and  large,  and  my 
little  plan  got  regularly  splendid  when  he  took  hold. 
You  must  give  him  your  very  best  kiss  when  he  comes, 
for  he  is  the  kindest  uncle  that  ever  went  and  bought  a 

charming  little  coo Bless  me  !  I  nearly  told  you 

what  it  was  !  "  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  cut  that  most  interesting 
word  short  off  in  the  middle,  and  began  to  look  over 
her  bills  as  if  afraid  she  would  let  the  cat  out.  of  the 
bag  if  she  talked  any  more.  Daisy  folded  her  hands 
•with  an  air  of  resignation,  and  sat  quite  still  trying  to 
think  what  play  had  a  "  coo  "  in  it. 

When  they  got  home  she  eyed  every  bundle  that  was 
taken  out,  and  one  large  heavy  one,  which  Franz  took 
straight  up-stairs  and  hid  in  the  nursery,  filled  her  with 
amazement  and  curiosity.  Something  very  mysterious 
went  on  up  there  that  afternoon,  for  Franz  was  ham- 
mering, and  Asia  trotting  up  and  down,  and  Aunt  Jo 
flying  around  like  a  will-o'-the-wisp,  with  all  sorts  of 
things  under  her  apron,  while  little  Ted,  who  was  the 
only  child  admitted,  because  he  couldn't  talk  plain, 
babbled  and  laughed,  and  tried  to  tell  what  the  "  sum- 
pin  pi4  ty  "  was. 

All  this  made  Daisy  half  wild,  and  her  excitement 
spread  among  the  boys,  who  quite  overwhelmed  Mother 
Bhaer  with  offers  of  assistance,  which  she  declined  by 
quoting  their  own  words  to  Daisy  — 


PATTY  PANS.  71 

"  Girls  can't  play  with  boys.  This  is  for  Daisy,  and 
Bess,  and  me,  so  we  don't  want  you."  Whereupon  the 
young  gentlemen  meekly  retired,  and  invited  Daisy  to 
a  game  of  marbles,  horse,  foot-ball,  any  thing  she  liked, 
with  a  sudden  warmth  and  politeness  which  astonished 
her  innocent  little  soul. 

Thanks  to  these  attentions,  she  got  through  the  after- 
noon, went  early  to  bed,  and  next  morning  did  her 
lessons  with  an  energy  which  made  Uncle  Fritz  wish 
that  a  new  game  could  be  invented  every  day.  Quite 
a  thrill  pervaded  the  school-room  when  Daisy  was  dis- 
missed at  eleven  o'clock,  for  every  one  knew  that  now 
she  was  going  to  have  the  new  and  mysterious  play. 

Many  eyes  followed  her  as  she  ran  away,  and  Demi's 
mind  was  so  distracted  by  this  event  that  when  Franz 
asked  him  where  the  desert  of  Sahara  was,  he  mourn- 
fully replied,  "  In  the  nursery,"  and  the  whole  school 
laughed  at  him. 

"Aunt  Jo,  I've  done  all  my  lessons,  and  I  can't 
wait  one  single  minute  more ! "  cried  Daisy,  flying  into 
Mrs.  Bhaer's  room. 

"  It 's  all  ready,  como  on ; "  and  tucking  Ted  under 
one  arm,  and  her  work-basket  under  the  other,  Aunt  Jo 
promptly  led  the  way  up-stairs. 

"  I  don't  see  any  thing,"  said  Daisy,  staring  about 
her  as  she  got  inside  the  nursery  door. 

"  Do  you  hear  any  thing  ?  "  asked  Aunt  Jo,  catching 
Ted  back  by  his  little  frock  as  he  was  making  straight 
for  one  side  of  the  room. 

Daisy  did  hear  an  odd  crackling,  and  then  a  purry 
little  sound  as  of  a  kettle  singing.  These  noises  came 
from  behind  a  curtain  drawn  before  a  deep  bay  win- 


72  LITTLE  MEN. 

dow.  Daisy  snatched  it  back,  gave  one  joyful  "  Oh  !  " 
and  then  stood  gazing  with  delight  at  —  what  do  you 
think? 

A  wide  seat  ran  round  the  three  sides  of  the  win- 
dow; on  one  side  hung  and  stood  all  sorts  of  little  pots 
and  pans,  gridirons,  and  skillets ;  on  the  other  side  a 
small  dinner  and  tea  set,  and  on  the  middle  part  a 
cooking-stove.  Not  a  tin  one,  that  was  of  no  use,  but 
a  real  iron  stove,  big  enough  to  cook  for  a  large  family 
of  very  hungry  dolls.  But  the  best  of  it  was  that  a 
real  fire  burned  in-  it,  real  steam  came  out  of  the  nose 
of  the  little  tea-kettle,  and  the  lid  of  the  little  boiler 
actually  danced  a  jig,  the  water  inside  bubbled  so  hard. 
A  pane  of  glass  had  been  taken  out  and  replaced  by  a 
sheet  of  tin,  with  a  hole  for  the  small  funnel,  and  real 
smoke  went  sailing  away  outside  so  naturally,  that  it 
did  one's  heart  good  to  see  it.  The  box  of  wood  with 
a  hod  of  charcoal  stood  near  by ;  just  above  hung  dust- 
pan, brush  and  broom ;  a  little  market  basket  was  on 
the  low  table  at  which  Daisy  used  to  play,  and  over  the 
back  of  her  little  chair  hung  a  white  apron  with  a  bib, 
and  a  droll  mob  cap.  The  sun  shone  in  as  if  he  enjoyed 
the  fun,  the  little  stove  roared  beautifully,  the  kettle 
steamed,  the  new  tins  sparkled  on  the  walls,  the  pretty 
china  stood  in  tempting  rows,  and  it  was  altogether  as 
cheery  and  complete  a  kitchen  as  any  child  could  desire. 

Daisy  stood  quite  still  after  the  first  glad  "  Oh  ! "  but 
her  eyes  went  quickly  from  one  charming  object  to  an- 
other, brightening  as  they  looked,  till  they  came  to 
Aunt  Jo's  merry  face ;  there  they  stopped  as  the  happy 
little  girl  hugged  her,  saying  gratefully  — 

"  O  Aunty,  it 's  a  splendid  new  play !  caj  I  really 


PATTY  PANS.  73 

cook  at  the  dear  stove,  and  have  parties  and  mess,  and 
sweep,  and  make  fires  that  truly  burn  ?  I  like  it  so 
much !  What  made  you  think  of  it  ?  " 

"  Your  liking  to  make  gingersnaps  with  Asia  made 
me  think  of  it,"  said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  holding  Daisy,  who 
frisked  as  if  she  would  fly.  "  I  knew  Asia  wouldn't  let 
you  mess  in  her  kitchen  very  often,  and  it  wouldn't  be 
safe  at  this  fire  up  here,  so  I  thought  I  'd  see  if  I  could 
find  a  little  stove  for  you,  and  teach  you  to  cook ;  that 
would  be  fun,  and  useful  too.  So  I  travelled  round 
among  the  toy  shops,  but  every  thing  large  cost  too 
much  and  I  was  thinking  I  should  have  to  give  it  up, 
when  I  met  Uncle  Teddy.  As  soon  as  he  knew  what 
I  was  about,  he  said  he  wanted  to  help,  and  insisted  on 
buying  the  biggest  toy  stove  we  could  find.  I  scolded, 
but  he  only  laughed,  and  teased  me  about  my  cooking 
when  we  were  young,  and  said  I  must  teach  Bess  as 
well  as  you,  and  went  on  buying  all  sorts  of  nice  little 
things  for  my  c  cooking  class '  as  he  called  it." 

"  I  'm  so  glad  you  met  him  !  "  said  Daisy,  as  Mrs.  Jo 
stopped  to  laugh  at  the  memory  of  the  funny  time  she 
had  with  Uncle  Teddy. 

'"  You  must  study  hard  and  learn  to  make  all  kinds 
of  things,  for  he  says  he  shall  come  out  to  tea  very 
often,  and  expects  something  uncommonly  nice." 

"  It 's  the  sweetest,  dearest  kitchen  in  the  world,  and 
I  'd  rather  study  with  it  than  do  any  thing  else.  Can't 
I  learn  pies,  and  cake,  and  maccaroni,  and  every  thing  ?  " 
cried  Daisy,  dancing  round  the  room  with  a  new  sauce- 
pan in  one  hand  and  the  tiny  poker  in  the  other. 

"  All  in  good  time.  This  is  to  be  a  useful  play,  I  am 
to  help  you,  and  you  are  to  be  my  cook,  so  I  shall  tell 


74  LITTLE  MEN. 

you  what  to  do,  and  show  you  how.  Then  we  shall 
have  things  fit  to  eat,  and  you  will  be  really  learning 
how  to  cook  on  a  small  scale.  I  '11  call  you  Sally,  and 
say  you  are  a  new  girl  just  come,"  added  Mrs.  Jo,  set- 
tling down  to  work,  while  Teddy  sat  on  the  floor  suck- 
ing his  thumb,  and  staring  at  the  stove  as  if  it  was  a 
live  thing,  whose  appearance  deeply  interested  him. 

«  That  will  be  so  lovely !  What  shall  I  do  first?  " 
asked  Sally,  with  such  a  happy  face  and  willing  air  that 
Aunt  Jo  wished  all  new  cooks  were  half  as  pretty  and 
pleasant. 

"  First  of  all,  put  on  this  clean  cap  and  apron.  I  am 
rather  old-fashioned,  and  I  like  my  cook  to  be  very 
tidy." 

Sally  tucked  her  curly  hair  into  the  round  cap,  and 
put  on  the  apron  without  a  murmur,  though  usually  she 
rebelled  against  bibs. 

"  Xow,  you  can  put  things  in  order,  and  wash  up  the 
new  china.  The  old  set  needs  washing  also,  for  my  last 
girl  was  apt  to  leave  it  in  a  sad  state  after  a  party." 

Aunt  Jo  spoke  quite  soberly,  but  Sally  laughed,  for 
she  knew  who  the  untidy  girl  was  who  had  left  the  cups 
sticky.  Then  she  turned  up  her  cuffs,  and  with  a  sigh 
of  satisfaction  began  to  stir  about  her  kitchen,  having 
little  raptures  now  and  then  over  the  "  sweet  rolling- 
pin,"  the  "  darling  dish-tub,"  or  the  "  cunning  pepper- 
pot." 

"Now,  Sally,  take  your  basket  and  go  to  market; 
here  is  the  list  of  things  I  want  for  dinner,"  said  Mrs. 
Jo,  giving  her  a  bit  of  paper  when  the  dishes  were  all 
in  order. 

"  Where  is  the  market  ?  "  asked  Daisy,  thinking  that 


PATTY  PANS.  75 

the  new  play  got  more  and  more  interesting  every 
minute. 

"  Asia  is  the  market."  • 

Away  went  Sally,  causing  another  stir  in  the  school- 
room as  she  passed  the  door  in  her  new  costume,  and 
whispered  to  Demi,  with  a  face  full  of  delight  —  "  It 's 
a  perfectly  splendid  play ! " 

*  Old  Asia  enjoyed  the  joke  as  much  as  Daisy,  and 
laughed  jollily  as  the  little  girl  came  flying  into  the 
room  with  her  cap  all  on  one  side,  the  lids  of  her  basket 
rattling  like  castanets,  and  looking  like  a  very  crazy 
little  cook. 

"  Mrs.  Aunt  Jo  wants  these  things,  and  I  must  have 
them  right  away,"  said  Daisy,  importantly. 

"  Let 's  see,  honey ;  here 's  two  pounds  of  steak,  pota- 
toes, squash,  apples,  bread,  and  butter.  The  meat  ain't 
come  yet;  when  it  does  I'll  send  it  up.  The  other 
things  are  all  handy." 

Then  Asia  packed  one  potato,  one  apple,  a  bit  of 
squash,  a  little  pat  of  butter,  and  a  roll,  into  the  basket, 
telling  Sally  to  be  on  the  watch  for  the  butcher's  boy, 
because  he  sometimes  played  tricks. 

"  Who  is  he  ?  "  and  Daisy  hoped  it  would  be  Demi. 

"  You  '11  see,"  was  all  Asia  would  say ;  and  Sally  went 
off  in  great  spirits,  singing  a  verse  from  dear  Mary 
Ho witt's  sweet  story  in  rhyme,  — 

"  Away  went  little  Mabel, 

With  the  wheaten  cake  so  fine, 
The  new  made  pot  of  butter, 
And  the  little  flask  of  wine." 

"  Put  every  thing  but  the  apple  into  the  store-closet 
for  the  present,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  when  the  cook  got  home. 


76  LITTLE  MEN. 

There  was  a  cupboard  under  the  middle  shelf,  and 
on  opening  the  door  fresh  delights  appeared.  One  half 
was  evidently  the  cellar,  for  wood,  coal,  and  kindlings 
were  piled  there.  The  other  half  was  full  of  littlerjars, 
boxes,  and  all  sorts  of  droll  contrivances  for  holding 
small  quantities  of  flour,  meal,  sugar,  salt,  and  other 
household  stores.  A  pot  of  jam  was  there,  a  little  tin 
box  of  "gingerbread,  a  cologne  bottle  full  of  currant 
wine,  and  a  tiny  canister  of  tea.  But  the  crowning 
charm  was  two  doll's  pans  of  new  milk,  with  cream 
actually  rising  on  it,  and  a  wee  skimmer  all  ready  to 
skim  it  with.  Daisy  clasped  her  hands  at  this  delicious 
spectacle,  and  wanted  to  skim  immediately.  But  Aunt 
Jo  said  — 

"  Not  yet ;  you  will  want  the  cream  to  eat  on  your 
apple-pie  at  dinner,  and  must  not  disturb  it  till  then." 

"  Am  I  going  to  have  pie  ?  "  cried  Daisy,  hardly  be- 
lieving that  such  bliss  could  be  in  store  for  her. 

"Yes;  if  your  oven  does  well  we  will  have  two  pies 
—  one  apple  and  one  strawberry,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  who 
was  nearly  as  much  interested  in  the  new  play  as  Daisy 
herself. 

"Oh,  what  next?"  asked  Sally,  all  impatience  to 
begin. 

"  Shut  the  lower  draught  of  the  stove,  so  that  the  oven 
may  heat.  Then  wash  vour  hands  and  get  out  the 
flour,  sugar,  salt,  butter,  and  cinnamon.  See  if  the  pie- 
board  is  clean,  and  pare  your  apple  ready  to  put  in." 

Daisy  got  things  together  with  as  little  noise  and 
spilling  as  could  be  expected,  from  so  young  a  cook. 

"  I  really  don't  know  how  to  measure  for  such  tiny 
pies ;  I  must  guess  at  it,  and  if  these  don't  succeed,  we 


PATTY  PANS.  77 

must  try  again,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  looking  rather  perplexed, 
and  very  much  amused  with  the  small  concern  before 
her.  "  Take  that  little  pan  full  of  flour,  put  in  a  pinch 
of  salt,  and  then  rub  in  as  much  butter  as  will  go  on 
that  plate.  Always  remember  to  put  your  dry  things 
together  first,  and  then  the  wet.  It  mixes  better  so." 

"  I  know  how ;  I  saw  Asia  do  it.  Don't  I  butter  the 
pie  plates  too  ?  She  did,  the  first  thing,"  gaid  Daisy, 
whisking  the  flour  about  at  a  great  rate. 

"  Quite  right !  I  do  believe  you  have  a  gift  for  cook- 
ing, you  take  to  it  so  cleverly,"  said  Aunt  Jo,  approv- 
ingly. "Now  a  dash  of  cold  water,  just  enough  to  wet 
it ;  then  scatter  some  flour  on  the  board,  work  in  a  lit- 
tle, and  roll  the  paste  out ;  yes,  that 's  the  way.  Now 
put  dabs  of  butter  all  over  it,  and  roll  it  out  again. 
We  won't  have  our  pastry  very  rich,  or  the  dolls  will 
get  dyspeptic." 

Daisy  laughed  at  the  idea,  and  scattered  the  dabs 
with  a  liberal  hand.  Then  she  rolled  and  rolled  with 
her  delightful  little  pin,  and  having  got  her  paste  ready 
proceeded  to  cover  the  plates  with  it.  Next  the  apple 
was  sliced  in,  sugar  and  cinnamon  lavishly  sprinkled 
over  it,  and  then  the  top  crust  put  on  with  breathless 
care. 

"  I  always  wanted  to  cut  them  round,  and  Asia  never 
would  let  me.  How  nice  it  is  to  do  it  all  my  ownty 
donty  self,"  said  Daisy,  as  the  little  knife  went  clipping 
round  the  doll's  plate  poised  on  her  hand. 

All  cooks,  even  the  best,  meet  with  mishaps  some- 
times, and  Sally's  first  one  occurred  then,  for  the  knife 
went  so  fast  that  the  plate  slipped,  turned  a  somersault 
in  the  air,  and  landed  the  dear  little  pie  upside  down 


78  LITTLE  MEN. 

on  the  floor.  Sally  screamed,  Mrs.  Jo  laughed,  Teddy 
scrambled  to  get  it,  and  for  a  moment  confusion  reigned 
in  the  new  kitchen. 

"  It  didn't  spill  or  break,  because  I  pinched  the  edtres 
together  so  hard;  it  isn't  hurt  a  bit,  so  I'll  prick  holes 
in  it,  and  then  it  will  be  ready,"  said  Sally,  picking  up 
tho  capsized  treasure  and  putting  it  into  shape  with  a 
child-like  disregard  of  the  dust  it  had  gathered  in  its 
fall. 

"  My  new  cook  has  a  good  temper  I  see,  and  that  is 
such  a  comfort,"  said  Mrs.  Jo.  "  Now  open  the  jar  of 
strawberry  jam,  fill  the  uncovered  pie,  and  put  some 
strips  of  paste  over  the  top  as  Asia  does." 

"  I  '11  make  a  D  in  the  middle,  and  have  zigzags  all 
round,  that  will  be  so  interesting  when  I  come  to  eat 
it,"  said  Sally,  loading  her  pie  with  quirls  and  flourishes 
that  would  have  driven  a  real  pastry  cook  wild.  "Wow 
I  put  them  in ! "  she  exclaimed ;  when  the  last  grimy 
knob  had  been  carefully  planted  in  the  red  field  of  jam, 
and  with  an  ah-  of  triumph  she  shut  them  into  the  little 
oven. 

"  Clear  up  your  things ;  a  good  cook  never  lets  her 
utensils  collect.  Then  pare  your  squash  and  potatoes." 

"  There  is  only  one  potato,"  giggled  Sally. 

u  Cut  it  in  four  pieces,  so  it  will  go  into  the  little 
kettle,  and  put  the  bits  into  cold  water  till  it  is  time  to 
cook  them." 

"  Do  I  soak  the  squash  too  ?  " 

"  No,  indeed  !  just  pare  it  and  cut  it  up,  and  put  it 
into  the  steamer  over  the  pot.  It  is  drier  so,  though  it 
takes  longer  to  cook." 

Here  a  scratching  at  the  door  caused  Sally  to  run  and 


PATTY  PANS.  79 

open  it,  when  Kit  appeared  with  a  covered  basket  in  his 
mouth. 

"Here's  the  butcher's  boy!"  cried  Daisy,  much 
tickled  at  the  idea,  as  she  relieved  him  of  his  load, 
whereat  he  licked  his  lips  and  began  to  beg,  evidently 
thinking  that  it  was  his  own  dinner,  for  he  often  carried 
it  to  his  master  in  that  way.  Being  undeceived,  he 
departed  in  great  wrath  and  barked  all  the  way  down- 
stairs, to  ease  his  wounded  feelings. 

In  the  basket  were  two  bits  of  steak  (doll's  pounds), 
a  baked  pear,  a  small  cake,  and  paper  with  them  on 
which  Asia  had  scrawled,  "  For  Missy's  lunch,  if  her 
cookin'  don't  turn  out  well." 

"  I  don't  want  any  of  her  old  pears  and  things  ;  my 
cooking  will  turn  out  well,  and  I  '11  have  a  splendid  din- 
ner; see  if  I  don't !  "  cried  Daisy,  indignantly. 

"  We  may  like  them  if  company  should  come.  It  is 
always  well  to  have  something  in  the  store-room,"  said 
Aunt  Jo,  who  had  been  taught  this  valuable  fact  by  a 
series  of  domestic  panics.  ' 

"  Me  is  hundry,"  announced  Teddy,  who  began  to 
think  what  with  so  much  cooking  going  on  it  was  about 
time  for  somebody  to  eat  something.  His  mother  gave 
him  her  work-basket  to  rummage,  hoping  to  keep  him  quiet 
till  dinner  was  ready,  and  returned  to  her  housekeeping. 

"  Put  on  your  vegetables,  set  the  table,  and  then  have 
some  coals  kindling  ready  for  the  steak." 

What  a  thing  it  was  to  see  the  potatoes  bobbing 
about  in  the  little  pot ;  to  peep  at  the  squash  getting 
soft  so  fast  in  the  tiny  steamer ;  to  whisk  open  the  oven 
door  every  five  minutes  to  see  how  the  pies  got  on,  and 
at  last  when  the  coals  were  red  and  glowing,  to  put 


80  LITTLE  MEN. 

two  real  steaks  on  a  finger-long  gridiron  and  proudly 
turn  them  with  a  fork.  The  potatoes  were  done  first, 
and  no  wonder,  for  they  had  boiled  frantically  all  the 
while.  They  were  pounded  up  with  a  little  pestle,  had 
much  butter  and  no  salt  put  in  (cook  forgot  it  in  the 
excitement  of  the  moment),  then  it  was  made  into  a 
mound  in  a  gay  red  dish,  smoothed  over  with  a  knife 
dipped  in  milk,  and  put  in  the  oven  to  brown. 

So  absorbed  in  these  last  performances,  had  Sally 
been,  that  she  forgot  her  pastry  till  she  opened  the  door 
to  put  in  the  potato,  then  a  wail  arose,  for,  alas !  alas ! 
the  little  pies  were  burnt  black ! 

"  Oh,  my  pies  !  my  darling  pies !  they  are  all  spoilt !" 
cried  poor  Sally,  wringing  her  dirty  little  hands  as  she 
surveyed  the  ruin  of  her  work.  The  tart  was  especially 
pathetic,  for  the  quirls  and  zigzags  stuck  up  in  all 
directions  from  the  blackened  jelly,  like  the  walls  and 
chimney  of  a  house  after  a  fire. 

"  Dear,  dear,  I  forgot  to  remind  you  to  take  them  out; 
it 's  just  my  luck,"  said  Aunt  Jo,  remorsefully.  "  Don't 
cry,  darling,  it  was  my  fault ;  we  '11  try  again  after  din- 
ner," she  added,  as  a  great  tear  dropped  from  Sally's 
eyes  and  sizzled  on  the  hot  ruins  of  the  tart. 

More  would  have  followed,  if  the  steak  had  not 
blazed  up  just  then,  and  so  occupied  the  attention  of 
cook,  that  she  quickly  forgot  the  lost  pastry. 

"  Put  the  meat-dish  and  your  own  plates  down  to 
warm,  while  you  mash  the  squash  with  butter,  salt, 
and  a  little  pepper  on  the  top,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  devoutly 
hoping  that  the  dinner  would  meet  with  no  further 
disasters. 

The  "  cunning  pepper-pot "  soothed  Sally's  feelings, 


PATTY  PANS.  81 

and  she  dished  np  her  squash  in  fine  style.  The  dinner 
was  safely  put  upon  the  table ;  the  six  dolls  were  seated 
three  on  a  side ;  Teddy  took  the  bottom,  and  Sally  the 
top.  When  all  were  settled,  it  was  a  most  imposing 
spectacle,  for  one  doll  was  in  full  ball  costume,  another 
in  her  night-gown ;  Jerry,  the  worsted  boy,  wore  his 
red  winter  suit,  while  Annabella,  the  noseless  darling, 
was  airily  attired  in  nothing  but  her  own  kid  skin. 
Teddy,  as  father  of  the  family,  behaved  with  great 
propriety,  for  he  smilingly  devoured  every  thing  offered 
him,  and  did  not  find  a  single  fault.  Daisy  beamed 
upon  her  company  like  the  weary,  warm,  but  hospitable 
hostess,  so  often  to  be  seen  at  larger  tables  than  this, 
and  did  the  honors  with  an  air  of  innocent  satisfaction, 
which  we  do  not  often  see  elsewhere. 

The  steak  was  so  tough,  that  the  little  carving-knife 
would  not  cut  it ;  the  potato  did  not  go  round,  and  the 
squash  was  very  lumpy ;  but  the  guests  appeared  politely 
unconscious  of  these  trifles ;  and  the  master  and  mistress 
of  the  house  cleared  the  table  with  appetites  that  any 
one  might  envy  them.  The  joy  of  skimming  a  jug-full 
of  cream  mitigated  the  anguish  felt  for  the  loss  of  the 
pies,  and  Asia's  despised  cake  proved  a  treasure  in  the 
way  of  dessert. 

"  That  is  the  nicest  lunch  I  ever  had  ;  can't  I  do  it 
every  day  ?  "  asked  Daisy  as  she  scraped  up  and  ate  the 
leavings  all  round. 

"  You  can  cook  things  every  day  after  lessons,  but  I 
prefer  that  you  should  eat  your  dishes  at  your  regular 
meals,  and  only  have  a  bit  of  gingerbread  for  lunch. 
To-day,  being  the  first  time,  I  don't  mind,  but  we  must 
keep  our  rules.  This  afternoon  you  can  make  some- 


82  LITTLE  MEN. 

thing  for  tea  if  you  like,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  who  had  en- 
joyed the  dinner-party  very  much,  though  no  one  had 
invited  her  to  partake. 

"  Do  let  me  make  flapjacks  for  Demi,  he  loves  them 
so,  and  it 's  such  fun  to  turn  them  and  put  sugar  in 
between,"  cried  Daisy,  tenderly  wiping  a  yellow  stain 
off  Annabella's  broken  nose,  for  Bella  had  refused  to 
eat  squash  when  it  was  pressed  upon  her  as  good  for 
"lumatism,"  a  complaint  which  it  is  no  wonder  she 
suffered  from,  considering  the  lightness  of  her  attire. 

"  But  if  you  give  Demi  goodies,  all  the  others  will 
expect  some  also,  and  then  you  will  have  your  hands 
full." 

"  Couldn't  I  have  Demi  come  up  to  tea  alone  just  this 
one  time,  and  after  that  I  could  cook  things  for  the 
others  if  they  were  good,"  proposed  Daisy,  with  a 
sudden  inspiration. 

"  That  is  a  capital  idea,  Posy !  We  will  make  your 
little  messes  rewards  for  the  good  boys,  and  I  don't 
know  one  among  them  who  would  not  like  something 
nice  to  eat  more  than  almost  any  thing  else.  If  little 
men  are  like  big  ones,  good  cooking  will  touch  their 
hearts  and  soothe  their  tempers  delightfully,"  added 
Aunt  Jo,  with  a  merry  nod  toward  the  door,  where 
stood  Papa  Bhaer,  surveying  the  scene  with  a  face  full 
of  amusement. 

"  That  last  hit  was  for  me,  sharp  woman.  I  accept 
it,  for  it  is  true ;  but  if  I  had  married  thee  for  thy  cook- 
ing, heart's  dearest,  I  should  have  fared  badly  all  these 
years,"  answered  the  professor,  laughing,  as  he  tossed 
Teddy,  who  became  quite  apoplectic  in  his  endeavors 
to  describe  the  feast  he  had  just  enjoyed. 


PATTY  PANS.  83 

Daisy  proudly  showed  her  kitchen,  and  rashly  prom- 
ised Uncle  Fritz  as'  many  flapjacks  as  he  could  eat. 
She  was  just  telling  about  the  new  rewards  when  the 
boys,  headed  by  Demi,  burst  into  the  room  snuffing  the 
air  like  a  pack  of  hungry  hounds,  for  school  was  out, 
dinner  was  not  ready,  and  the  fragrance  of  Daisy's  steak 
led  them  straight  to  the  spot. 

A  prouder  little  damsel  was  never  seen  than  Sally  as 
she  displayed  her  treasures  and  told  the  lads  what  was 
in  store  for  them.  Several  rather  scoffed  at  the  idea  of 
her  cooking  any  thing  fit  to  eat,  but  Stuffy's  heart  was 
won  at  once,  Nat  and  Demi  had  firm  faith  in  her  skill, 
and  the  others  said  they  would  wait  and  see.  All  ad- 
mired the  kitchen,  however,  and  examined  the  stove 
with  deep  interest.  Demi  offered  to  buy  the  boiler  on 
the  spot,  to  be  used  in  a  steam-engine  which  he  was 
constructing ;  and  Ned  declared  that  flie  best  and  big- 
gest saucepan  was  just  the  thing  to  melt  his  lead  in 
when  he  ran  bullets,  hatchets,  and  such  trifles. 

Daisy  looked  so  alarmed  at  these  proposals,  that  Mrs. 
Jo  then  and  there  made  and  proclaimed  a  law  that  no 
boy  should  touch,  use,  or  even  approach  the  sacred 
stove  without  a  special  permit  from  the  owner  thereof. 
This  increased  its  value  immensely  in  the  eyes  of  the 
gentlemen,  especially  as  any  infringement  of  the  law 
would  be  punished  by  the  forfeiture  of  all  right  to  par- 
take of  the  delicacies  promised  to  the  virtuous. 

At  this  point  the  bell  rang,  and  the  entire  population 
went  down  to  dinner,  which  meal  was  enlivened  by  each 
of  the  boy's  giving  Daisy  a  list  of  things  he  would  like 
to  have  cooked  for  him  as  fast  as  he  earned  them. 
Daisy,  whose  faith  in  her  stove  was  unlimited,  promised 


84  LITTLE  MEN. 

every  thing,  if  Aunt  Jo  would  tell  her  how  to  make 
them.  This  suggestion  rather  alarmed  Mrs.  Jo,  for 
some  of  the  dishes  were  quite  beyond  her  skill  —  wed- 
ding-cake for  instance,  bull's-eye  candy,  and  cabbage 
soup  with  herrings  and  cherries  in  it,  which  Mr.  Bhaer 
proposed  as  his  favorite,  and  immediately  reduced  his 
wife  to  despair,  for  German  cookery  was  beyond  her. 

Daisy  wanted  to  begin  again  the  minute  dinner  was 
done,  but  she  was  only  allowed  to  clear  up,  fill  the 
kettle  ready  for  tea,  and  wash  out  her  apron,  which 
looked  as  if  she  had  cooked  a  Christmas  feast.  She  was 
then  sent  out  to  play  till  five  o'clock,  for  Uncle  Fritz 
said  that  too  much  study,  even  at  cooking  stoves,  was 
bad  for  little  minds  and  bodies,  and  Aunt  Jo  knew  by 
long  experience  how  soon  new  toys  lose  their  charm  if 
they  are  not  prudently  used. 

Every  one  wa%  very  kind  to  Daisy  that  afternoon. 
Tommy  promised  her  the  first  fruits  "of  his  garden, 
though  the  only  visible  crop  just  then  was  pigweed ; 
Nat  offered  to  supply  her  with  wood,  free  of  charge ; 
Stuffy  quite  worshipped  her ;  Ned  immediately  fell  to 
work  on  a  little  refrigerator  for  her  kitchen ;  and  Demi, 
with  a  punctuality  beautiful  to  see  in  one  so  young, 
escorted  her  to  the  nursery  just  as  the  clock  struck  five. 
It  was  not  time  for  the  party  to  begin,  but  he  begged 
so  hard  to  come  in  and  help  that  he  was  allowed  privi- 
leges few  visitors  enjoy,  for  he  kindled  the  fire,  ran 
errands,  and  watched  the  progress  of  his  supper  with 
intense  interest.  Mrs.  Jo  directed  the  affair  as  she  came 
and  went,  being  very  busy  putting  up  clean  curtains  all 
over  the  house. 

"  Ask  Asia  for  a  cup  of  sour  cream,  then  your  cakes 


PATTY  PANS.  85 

will  be  light  without  much  soda,  which  I  don't  like," 
was  the  first  order. 

Demi  tore  down-stairs,  and  returned  with  the  cream, 
also  a  puckered-up  face,  for  he  had  tasted  it  on  his  way, 
and  found  it  so  sour  that  he  predicted  the  cakes  would 
be  uneatable.  Mrs.  Jo  took  this  occasion  to  deliver  a 
short  lecture  from  the  step-ladder  on  the  chemical  prop- 
erties of  soda,  to  which  Daisy  did  not  listen,  but  Demi 
did,  and  understood  it,  as  he  proved  by  the  brief  but 
comprehensive  reply  — 

"  Yes,  I  see,  soda  turns  sour  things  sweet,  and  the 
fizzling  up  makes  them  light.  Let 's  see  you  do  it, 
Daisy." 

"  Fill  that  bowl  nearly  full  of  flour  and  add  a  little 
salt  to  it,"  continued  Mrs.  Jo. 

"  Oh  dear,  every  thing  has  to  have  salt  in  it,  seems  to 
me,"  said  Sally,  who  was  tired  of  opening  the  pill-box 
in  which  it  was  kept. 

"  Salt  is  like  good-humor,  and  nearly  every  thing  is 
better  for  a  pinch  of  it,  Posy,"  and  Uncle  Fritz  stopped 
as  he  passed,  hammer  in  hand,  to  drive  up  two  or  three 
nails  for  Sally's  little  pans  to  hang  on. 

"  You  are  not  invited  to  tea,  but  I  '11  give  you  some 
cakes,  and  I  won't  be  cross,"  said  Daisy,  putting  up  her 
floury  little  face  to  thank  him  with  a  kiss. 

"  Fritz,  you  must  not  interrupt  my  cooking  class,  or 
I  '11  come  in  and  moralize  when  you  are  teaching  Latin. 
How  would  you  like  that  ? "  said  Mrs.  Jo,  throwing  a 
great  chintz  curtain  down  on  his  head. 

"  Very  much,  try  it  and  see,"  and  the  amiable  Father 
Bhaer  went  singing  and  tapping  about  the  house  like  a 
mammoth  woodpecker. 


86  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Put  the  soda  into  the  cream,  and  when  it  c  fizzles,' 
as  Demi  says,  stir  it  into  the  flour,  and  beat  it  up  as 
hard  as  ever  you  can.  Have  your  griddle  hot,  butter 
it  well,  and  then  fry  away  till  I  come  back,"  and  Aunt 
Jo  vanished  also. 

Such  a  clatter  as  the  little  spoon  made,  and  such  a 
beating  as  the  batter  got,  it  quite  foamed  I  assure  you ; 
and  when  Daisy  poured  some  on  to  the  griddle,  it  rose 
like  magic  into  a  puffy  flapjack,  that  made  Demi's 
mouth  water.  To  be  sure  the  first  one  stuck  and 
scorched,  because  she  forgot  the  butter,  but  after  that 
first  failure  all  went  well,  and  six  capital  little  cakes 
were  safely  landed  in  a  dish. 

"  I  think  I  'd  like  maple-syrup  better  than  sugar," 
said  Demi  from  his  arm-chair,  where  he  had  settled 
himself  after  setting  the  table  in  a  new  and  peculiar 
manner. 

"  Then  go  and  ask  Asia  for  some,"  answered  Daisy, 
going  into  the  bath-room  to  wash  her  hands. 

While  the  nursery  was  empty  something  dreadful 
happened.  You  see,  Kit  had  been  feeling  hurt  all  day 
because  he  had  carried  meat  safely  and  yet  got  none  to 
pay  him.  He  was  not  a  bad  dog,  but  he  had  his  little 
faults  like  the  rest  of  us,  and  could  not  always  resist 
temptation.  Happening  to  stroll  into  the  nursery  at 
that  moment,  he  smelt  the  cakes,  saw  them  unguarded 
on  the  low  table,  and  never  stopping  to  think  of  conse- 
quences, swallowed  all  six  at  one  mouthful.  I  am  glad 
to  say  that  they  were  very  hot,  and  burned  him  so 
badly  that  he  could  not  repress  a  surprised  yelp.  Daisy 
heard  it,  ran  in,  saw  the  empty  dish,  also  the  end  of 
a  yellow  tail  disappearing  under  the  bed.  Without  a 


PATTY  PANS.  87 

word  she  seized  that  tail,  pulled  out  the  thief,  and  shook 
him  *  till  his  ears  flapped  wildly,  then  bundled  him 
down-stairs  to  the  shed,  where  he  spent  a  lonely  even- 
ing in  the  coal-bin. 

Cheered  by  the  sympathy  which  Demi  gave  her, 
Daisy  made  another  bowl  full  of  batter,  and  fried  a 
dozen  cakes,  which  were  even  better  than  the  others. 
Indeed,  Uncle  Fritz  after  eating  two  sent  up  word  that 
he  had  never  tasted  any  so  nice,  and  every  boy  at  the 
table  below  envied  Demi  at  the  flapjack  party  above. 

It  was  a  truly  delightful  supper,  for  the  little  teapot 
lid  only  fell  off  three  times,  and  the  milk  jug  upset  but 
once ;  the  cakes  floated  in  syrup,  and  the  toast  had  a 
delicious  beef-steak  flavor,  owing  to  cook's  using  the 
gridiron  to  make  it  on.  Demi  forgot  philosophy,  and 
stuffed  like  any  carnal  boy,  while  Daisy  planned  sumptu- 
ous banquets,  and  the  dolls  looked  on  smiling  affably. 

"  Well,  dearies,  have  you  had  a  good  time  ?  "  asked 
Mrs.  Jo,  coming  up  with  Teddy  on  her  shoulder. 

"A  very  good  time.  I  shall  come  again  soon? 
answered  Demi,  with  emphasis. 

"  I  'm  afraid  you  have  eaten  too  much,  by  the  look  of 
that  table." 

"  No,  I  haven't,  I  only  ate  fifteen  cakes,  and  they 
were  very  little  ones,"  protested  Demi,  who  had  kept 
his  sister  busy  supplying  his  plate. 

"  They  won't  hurt  him,  they  are  so  nice,"  said  Daisy, 
with  such  a  funny  mixture  of  maternal  fondness,  and 
housewifely  pride,  that  Aunt  Jo  could  only  smile,  and 
say  — 

"Well,  on  the  whole,  the  new  game  is  a  success 
then?" 


88  LITTLE  MEN. 

u  I  like  it,"  said  Demi,  as  if  his  approval  was  all  that 
was  necessary. 

"It  is  the  dearest  play  ever  made!"  cried  Daisy, 
hugging  her  little  dish-tub  as  she  proposed  to  wash  up 
the  cups.  "  I  just  wish  everybody  had  a  sweet  cooking 
stove  like  mine,"  she  added,  regarding  it  with  affection. 

"  This  play  ought  to  have  a  name,"  said  Demi,  gravely 
removing  the  syrup  from  his  countenance  with  his 
tongue. 

"It  has." 

"  Oh,  what  ?  "  asked  both  children,  eagerly. 

"  Well,  I  think  we  will  cajl  it  Patty-pans,"  and  Aunt 
Jo  retired,  satisfied  with  the  success  of  her  last  trap  to 
catch  a  sunbeam. 


CHAPTER  VI. 

A  FIRE  BRAND. 

«  TT)LEASE,  ma'am,  could  I  speak  to  you  ?  It  is  some- 

-L  thing  very  important,"  said  Nat,  popping  his 
head  in  at  the  door  of  Mrs.  Bhaer's  room. 

It  was  the  fifth  head  which  had  popped  in  during 
the  last  half-hour ;  but  Mrs.  Jo  was  used  to  it,  so  she 
looked  up,  and  said  briskly  — 

"What  is  it,  my  lad?" 

Nat  came  in,  shut  the  door  carefully  behind  him,  and 
said  in  an  eager,  anxious  tone  — 

"  Dan  has  come." 

"TV ho  is  Dan?" 

"  He 's  a  boy  I  used  to  know  when  I  fiddled  round 
the  streets.  He  sold  papers,  and  he  was  kind  to  me, 
and  I  saw  him  the  other  day  in  town,  and  told  him 
how  nice  it  was  here,  and  he 's  come." 

"  But,  my  dear  boy,  that  is  rather  a  sudden  way  to 
pay  a  visit." 

u  Oh,  it  isn't  a  visit,  he  wants  to  stay  if  you  will  let 
him ! "  said  Nat,  innocently. 

"Well,  but  I  don't  know  about  that,"  began  Mrs. 
Bhaer,  rather  startled  by  the  coolness  of  the  proposi- 
tion. 


90  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Why,  I  thought  you  liked  to  have  poor  boys  come 
and  live  with  you,  and  be  kind  to  'em  as  you  were  to 
me,"  said  Nat,  looking  surprised  and  alarmed. 

"  So  I  do,  but  I  like  to  know  something  about  them 
first.  I  have  to  choose  them,  because  there  are  so 
many.  I  have  not  room  for  all.  I  wish  I  had." 

"  I  told  him  to  come  because  I  thought  you  'd  like  it, 
but  if  there  isn't  room  he  can  go  away  again,"  said 
Nat,  sorrowfully. 

The  boy's  confidence  in  her  hospitality  touched  Mrs. 
Bhaer,  and  she  could  not  find  the  heart  to  disappoint 
his  hope,  and  spoil  his  kind  little  plan,  so  she  said  — 

"Tell  me  about  this  Dan." 

"I  don't  know  any  thing,  only  he  hasn't  got  any 
folks,  and  he 's  poor,  and  he  was  good  to  me,  so  I  'd 
like  to  be  good  to  him  if  I  could." 

"  Excellent  reasons  every  one ;  but  really,  Nat,  the 
house  is  full,  and  I  don't  know  where  I  could  put  him," 
said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  more  and  more  inclined  to  prove  her- 
self the  haven  of  refuge  he  seemed  to  think  her. 

"  He  could  have  my  bed,  and  I  could  sleep  in  the 
barn.  It  isn't  cold  now,  and  I  don't  mind,  I  used  to 
sleep  anywhere  with  father,"  said  Nat,  eagerly. 

Something  in  his  speech  and  face  made  Mrs.  Jo  put 
her  hand  on  his  shoulder,  and  say  in  her  kindest  tone : 

"  Bring  in  your  friend,  Nat ;  I  think  we  must  find 
room  for  him  without  giving  him  your  place." 

Nat  joyfully  ran  off,  and  soon  returned  followed  by  a 
most  unprepossessing  boy,  who  slouched  in  and  stood 
looking  about  him,  with  a  half  bold,  half  sullen  look, 
which  made  Mrs.  Bhaer  say  to  herselfj  after  one  glance : 

"  A  bad  specimen,  I  am  afraid." 


A  FIRE  BRAND.  91 

«*  This  is  Dan,"  said  Nat,  presenting  him  as  if  sure  of 
his  welcome. 

"  Nat  tells  me  you  would  like  to  come  and  stay  with 
us,"  began  Mrs.  Jo,  in  a  friendly  tone. 

"  Yes,"  was  the  gruff  reply. 

"  Have  you  no  friends  to  take  care  of  you  ?  " 

"No." 

"  Say,  '  No,  ma'am,' "  whispered  Nat. 

"  Shan't  neither,"  muttered  Dan. 

"How  old  are  you?" 

"  About  fourteen." 

"  You  look  older.    What  can  you  do  ?  " 

"  'Most  any  thing." 

"  If  you  stay  here  we  shall  want  you  to  do  as  the 
others  do,  work  and  study  as  well  as  play.  Are  you 
willing  to  agree  to  that  ?  " 

"  Don't  mind  trying." 

"Well,  you  can  stay  a  few  days,  and  we  will  see 
how  we  get  on  together.  Take  him  out,  Nat,  and 
amuse  him  till  Mr.  Bhaer  comes  home,  when  we  will 
settle  about  the  matter,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  finding  it  rather 
difficult  to  get  on  with  this  cool  young  person,  who 
fixed  his  big  black  eyes  on  her  with  a  hard,  suspicious 
expression,  sorrowfully  unboyish. 

"  Come  on,  Nat,"  he  said,  and  slouched  out  again. 

"  Thank  you,  ma'am,"  added  Nat,  as  he  followed  him, 
feeling  without  quite  understanding  the  difference  in  the 
welcome  given  to  him  and  to  his  ungracious  friend. 

"  The  fellows  are  having  a  circus  out  in  the  barn ; 
don't  you  want  to  come  and  see  it  ?  "  he  asked,  as  they 
came  down  the  wide  steps  on  to  the  lawn. 

"  Are  they  big  fellows  ?  "  said  Dan. 


92  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  No ;  the  big  ones  are  gone  fishing." 

"  Fire  away  then,"  said  Dan. 

Nat  led  him  to  the  great  barn  and  introduced  him  to 
his  set,  who  were  disporting  themselves  among  the  half 
empty  lofts.  A  large  circle  was  marked  out  with  hay 
on  the  wide  floor,  and  in  the  middle  stood  Demi  with 
a  long  whip,  while  Tommy,  mounted  on  the  much  en- 
during Toby,  pranced  about  the  circle  playing  being  a 
monkey. 

"  You  must  pay  a  pin  a-piece,  or  you  can't  see  the 
show,"  said  Stuffy,  who  stood  by  the  wheel-barrow  in 
which  sat  the  band,  consisting  of  a  pocket-comb  blown 
upon  by  Ned,  and  a  toy  drum  beaten  spasmodically  by 
Rob. 

"He's  company,  so  I'll  pay  for  both,"  said  Nat, 
handsomely,  as  he  stuck  two  crooked  pins  in  the  dried 
mushroom  which  served  as  money-box. 

With  a  nod  to  the  company  they  seated  themselves 
on  a  couple  of  boards,  and  the  performance  went  on. 
After  the  monkey  act,  Ned  gave  them  a  fine  specimen 
of  his  agility  by  jumping  over  an  old  chair,  and  run- 
ing  up  and  down  ladders,  sailor  fashion.  Then  Demi 
danced  a  jig  with  a  gravity  beautiful  to  behold.  Nat 
was  called  upon  to  wrestle  with  Stuffy,  and  speedily 
laid  that  stout  youth  upon  the  ground.  After  this, 
Tommy  proudly  advanced  to  turn  a  somersault,  an  ac- 
complishment which  he  had  acquired  by  painful  per- 
severance, practising  in  private  till  every  joint  of  his 
little  frame  was  black  and  blue.  His  feats  were  received 
with  great  applause,  and  he  was  about  to  retire,  flushed 
with  pride  and  a  rush  of  blood  to  the  head,  when  a 
scornful  voice  in  the  audience  was  heard  to  say — 


A  FIRE  BRAND.  93 

«  Ho !  that  ain't  any  thing ! " 

"  Say  that  again,  will  you  ?  "  and  Tommy  bristled  up 
like  an  angry  turkey-cock. 

"  Do  you  want  to  fight,"  said  Dan,  promptly  descend- 
ing from  the  barrel  and  doubling  up  his  fists  in  a  busi- 
ness-like manner. 

"  No,  I  don't ; "  and  the  candid  Thomas  retired  a  step, 
rather  taken  aback  by  the  proposition. 

"Fighting  isn't  allowed!"  cried  the  others,  much 
excited. 

"  You  're  a  nice  lot,"  sneered  Dan. 

"  Come,  if  you  don't  behave,  you  shan't  stay,"  said 
Nat,  firing  up  at  that  insult  to  his  friends. 

"I'd  like  to  see  him  do  better  than  I  did,  that's  all," 
observed  Tommy,  with  a  swagger. 

"Clear  the  way,  then,"  and  without  the  slightest 
preparation  Dan  turned  three  somersaults  one  after  the 
other  and  came  up  on  his  feet. 

"You  can't  beat  that,  Tom;  you  always  hit  your 
head  and  tumble  flat,"  said  Nat,  pleased  at  his  friend's 
success. 

Before  he  could  say  any  more  the  audience  were 
electrified  by  three  more  somersaults  backwards,  and  a 
short  promenade  on  the  hands,  head  down,  feet  up. 
This  brought  down  the  house,  and  Tommy  joined  in 
the  admiring  cries  which  greeted  the  accomplished 
gymnast  as  he  righted  himself,  and  looked  at  them  with 
an  air  of  calm  superiority. 

"Do  you  think  I  could  learn  to  do  it  without  its 
hurting  me  very  much?"  Tom  meekly  asked,  as  he 
rubbed  the  elbows  which  still  smarted  after  the  last 
attempt. 


94  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  What  will  you  give  me  if  I  '11  ^teach  you  ?  "  said 
Dan. 

"My  new  jack-knife;  it's  got  five  blades,  and  only 
one  is  broken." 

"  Give  it  here  then." 

Tommy  handed  it  over  with  an  affectionate  look  at 
its  smooth  handle.  Dan  examined  it  carefully,  then 
putting  it  into  his  pocket,  walked  off,  saying  with  a 
wink  — 

"  Keep  it  up  till  you  learn,  that 's  all." 

A  howl  of  wrath  from  Tommy  was  followed  by  a 
general  uproar,  which  did  not  subside  till  Dan,  finding 
himself  in  a  minority,  proposed  that  they  should  play 
stick-knife,  and  whichever  won  should  have  the  treasure. 
Tommy  agreed,  and  the  game  was  played  in  a  circle  of 
excited  faces,  which  all  wore  an  expression  of  satisfac- 
tion, when  Tommy  won  and  secured  the  knife  in  the 
depth  of  his  safest  pocket. 

"You  come  off  with  me,  and  I'll  show  you  round," 
said  Nat,  feeling  that  he  must  have  a  little  serious  con- 
versation with  his  friend  in  private. 

What  passed  between  them  no  one  knew,  but  when 
they  appeared  again,  Dan  was  more  respectful  to  every 
one,  though  still  gruff  in  his  speech,  and  rough  in  his 
manner;  and  what  else  could  be  expected  of  the  poor 
lad  who  had  been  knocking  about  the  world  all  his  short 
life  with  no  one  to  teach  him  any  better  ? 

The  boys  had  decided  that  they  did  not  like  him,  and 
so  they  left  him  to  Nat,  who  soon  felt  rather  oppressed 
by  the  responsibility,  but  was  too  kind-hearted  to  desert 
him. 

Tommy,  however,  felt  that  in  spite  of  the  jack-knife 


A  FIEE  BRAND.  95 

• 

transaction,  there  was  a  bond  of  sympathy  between 
them,  and  longed  to  return  to  the  interesting  subject  of 
somersaults.  He  soon  found  an  opportunity,  for  Dan, 
seeing  how  much  he  admired  him,  grew  more  amiable, 
and  by  the  end  of  the  first  week  was  quite  intimate 
with  the  lively  Tom. 

Mr.  Bhaer  when  he  heard  the  story  and  saw  Dan, 
shook  his  head,  but  only  said  quietly  — 

"  The  experiment  may  cost  us  something,  but  we  will 
try  it." 

If  Dan  felt  any  gratitude  for  his  protection,  he  did 
not  show  it,  and  took  without  thanks  all  that  was  given 
him.  He  was  ignorant,  but  very  quick  to  learn  when 
he  chose ;  had  sharp  eyes  to  watch  what  went  on  about 
him;  a  saucy  tongue,  rough  manners,  and  a  temper 
that  was  fierce  and  sullen  by  turns.  He  played  with 
all  his  might,  and  played  well  at  almost  all  the  games. 
He  was  silent  and  gruff  before  grown  people,  and  only 
now  and  then  was  thoroughly  social  among  the  lads. 
Few  of  them  really  liked  him,  but  few  could  help 
admiring  his  courage  and  strength,  for  nothing  daunted 
him,  and  he  knocked  tall  Franz  flat  on  one  occasion 
with  an  ease  that  caused  all  the  others  to  keep  at  a  re- 
spectful distance  from  his  fists.  Mr.  Bhaer  watched 
him  silently,  and  did  his  best  to  tame  the  "  Wild  Boy," 
as  they  called  him,  but  in  private  the  worthy  man 
shook  his  head,  and  said  soberly,  "  I  hope  the  experi- 
ment will  turn  out  well,  but  I  am  a  little  afraid  it 
may  cost  too  much." 

Mrs.  Bhaer  lost  her  patience  with  him  half  a  dozen 
times  a  day,  yet  never  gave  him  up,  and  always  insisted 
that  there  was  something  good  in  the  lad  after  all ;  for 


96  LITTLE  MEN. 

he  was  kinder  to  animals  than  to  people,  he  liked  to 
rove  about  in  the  woods,  and,  best  of  all,  little  Ted 
was  fond  of  him.  What  the  secret  was  no  one  could 
discover,  but  Baby  took  to  him  at  once  —  gabbled  and 
crowed  whenever  he  saw  him  —  preferred  his  strong 
back  to  ride  on  to  any  of  the  others  —  and  called  him 
"My  Danny"  out  of  his  own  little  head.  Teddy  was 
the  only  creature  to  whom  Dan  showed  any  affection, 
and  this  was  only  manifested  when  he  thought  no  one 
else  could  see  it;  but  mothers'  eyes  are  quick,  and 
motherly  hearts  instinctively  divine  who  love  their 
babies.  So  Mrs.  Jo  soon  saw  and  felt  that  there  was 
a  soft  spot  in  rough  Dan,  and  bided  her  time  to 
touch  and  win  him. 

But  an  unexpected  and  decidedly  alarming  event 
upset  all  their  plans,  and  banished  Dan  from  Plum- 
field. 

Tommy,  Nat,  and  Demi  began  by  patronizing  Dan, 
because  the  other  lads  rather  slighted  him;  but  soon 
they  each  felt  there  was  a  certain  fascination  about  the 
bad  boy,  and  from  looking  down  upon  him  they  came 
to  looking  up,  each  for  a  different  reason.  Tommy 
admired  his  skill  and  courage;  Nat  was  grateful  for 
past  kindness;  and  Demi  regarded  him  as  a  sort  of 
animated  story  book,  for  when  he  chose  Dan  could  tell 
his  adventures  in  a  most  interesting  way.  It  pleased 
Dan  to  have  the  three  favorites  like  him,,  and  he 
exerted  himself  to  be  agreeable,  which  was  the  secret 
of  his  success. 

The  Bhaers  were  surprised,  but  hoped  the  lads  would 
have  a  good  influence  over  Dan,  and  waited  with 
gome  anxiety,  trusting  that  no  harm  would  come  of  it. 


A  FIRE  BRAND.  97 

Dan  felt  they  did  not  quite  trust  him,  and  never 
showed  them  his  best  side,  but  took  a  wilful  pleasure 
in  trying  their  patience  and  thwarting  their  hopes  as 
far  as  he  dared. 

Mr.  Bhaer  did  not  approve  of  fighting,  and  did  not 
think  it  a  proof  of  either  manliness  or  courage  for  two 
lads  to  pommel  one  another  for  the  amusement  of  the 
rest.  All  sorts  of  hardy  games  and  exercises  were 
encouraged,  and  the  boys  were  expected  to  take  hard 
knocks  and  tumbles  without  whining;  but  black  eyes 
and  bloody  noses  given  for  the  fun  of  it  were  for- 
bidden as  a  foolish  and  a  brutal  play. 

Dan  laughed  at  this  rule,  and  told  such  exciting  tales 
of  his  own  valor,  and  the  many  frays  that  he  had 
been  in,  that  some  of  the  lads  were  fired  with  a  desire 
to  have  a  regular  good  "mill." 

"  Don't  tell,  and  I  '11  show  you  how,"  said  Dan ;  and, 
getting  half  a  dozen  of  the  lads  together  behind  the 
barn,  he  gave  them  a  lesson  in  boxing,  which  quite 
satisfied  the  ardor  of  most  of  them.  Emil,  however, 
could  not  submit  to  be  beaten  by  a  fellow  younger  than 
himself,  —  for  Emil  was  past  fourteen,  and  a  plucky 
fellow,  —  so  he  challenged  Dan  to  a  fight.  Dan  ac- 
cepted at  once,  and  the  others  looked  on  with  intense 
interest. 

What  little  bird  carried  the  news  to  head-quarters 
no  one  ever  knew,  but,  in  the  very  hottest  of  the  fray, 
when  Dan  and  Emil  were  fighting  like  a  pair  of  young 
bull-dogs,  and  the  others  with  fierce,  excited  faces  were 
cheering  them  on,  Mr.  Bhaer  walked  into  the  ring, 
plucked  the  combatants  apart  with  a  strong  hand,  and 
said,  in  the  voice  they  seldom  heard  — 
7 


98  LITTLE  MEN. 

"I  can't  allow  this,  boys!  Stop  it  at  once;  and 
never  let  me  see  it  again.  I  keep  a  school  for  boys, 
not  for  wild  beasts.  Look  at  each  other  and  be 
ashamed  of  yourselves." 

"  You  let  me  go,  and  I  '11  knock  him  down  again," 
shouted  Dan,  sparring  away  in  spite  of  the  grip  on 
his  collar. 

"Come  on,  come  on,  I  ain't  thrashed  yet!"  cried 
Emil,  who  had  been  down  five  times,  but  did  not  know 
when  he  was  beaten. 

"They  are  playing  be  gladdy  —  what-you-call-'ems, 
like  the  Romans,  Uncle  Fritz,"  called  out  Demi,  whose 
eyes  were  bigger  than  ever  with  the  excitement  of 
this  new  pastime/ 

"  They  were  a  fine  set  of  brutes ;  but  we  have  learned 
something  since  then  I  hope,  and  I  cannot  have  you 
make  my  barn  a  Colosseum.  Who  proposed  this?" 
asked  Mr.  Bhaer. 

"  Dan,"  answered  several  voices. 

"Don't  you  know  that  it  is  forbidden  ?  " 

"  Yes,"  growled  Dan,  sullenly. 

"  Then  why  break  the  rule  ?  " 

"  They  '11  all  be  molly-coddles,  if  they  don't  know 
how  to  fight." 

"  Have  you  found  Emil  a  molly-coddle  ?  He  doesn't 
look  much  like  one,"  and  Mr.  Bhaer  brought  the  two  face 
to  face.  Dan  had  a  black  eye,  and  his  jacket  was  torn 
to  rags ;  but  Emil's  face  was  covered  with  blood  from  a 
cut  lip  and  a  bruised  nose,  while  a  bump  on  his  fore- 
head was  already  as  purple  as  a  plum.  In  spite  of  his 
wounds  however,  he  still  glared  upon  his  foe,  and  evi- 
dently panted  to  renew  the  fight. 


A  FIRE  BRAND.  99 

"  He  'd  make  a  first-rater  if  he  was  taught,"  said  Dan, 
unable  to  withhold  the  praise  from  the  boy  who  made 
it  necessary  for  him  to  do  his  best. 

"  He  '11  be  taught  to  fence  and  box  by  and  by,  and 
till  then  I  think  he  will  do  very  well  without  any  les- 
sons in  mauling.  Go  and  wash  your  faces ;  and  remem- 
ber,- Dan,  if  you  break  any  more  of  the  rules  again,  you 
will  be  sent  away.  That  was  the  bargain ;  do  your  part 
and  we  will  do  ours." 

The  lads  went  off,  and  after  a  few  more  words  to  the 
spectators,  Mr.  Bhaer  followed  to  bind  up  the  wounds 
of  the  young  gladiators.  Emil  went  to  bed  sick,  and 
Dan  was  an  unpleasant  spectacle  for  a  week. 

But  the  lawless  lad  had  no  thought  of  obeying,  and 
soon  transgressed  again. 

One  Saturday  afternoon  as  a  party  of  the  boys  went 
out  to  play,  Tommy  said  — 

"  Let 's  go  down  to  the  river,  and  cut  a  lot  of  new 
fish-poles." 

"  Take  Toby  to  drag  them  back,  and  one  of  us  can 
ride  him  down,"  proposed  Stuffy,  who  hated  to  walk. 

"  That  means  you,  I  suppose ;  well,  hurry  up,  lazy- 
bones," said  Dan. 

Away  they  went,  and  having  got  the  poles  were 
about  to  go  home,  when  Demi  unluckily  said  to  Tommy, 
who  was  on  Toby  with  a  long  rod  in  his  hand  — 

"  You  look  like  the  picture  of  the  man  in  the  bull- 
fight, only  you  haven't  got  a  red  cloth,  or  pretty  clothes 
on." 

"I'd  like  to  see  one;  wouldn't  you?"  said  Tommy 
shaking  his  lance. 

"  Let 's  have  one ;  there 's  old  Buttercup  in  the  big 


100  LITTLE  MEN. 

meadow,  ride  at  her  Tom,  and  see  her  run,"  proposed 
Dan,  bent  on  mischief. 

"  No,  you  mustn't,"  began  Demi,  who  was  learning  to 
distrust  Dan's  propositions. 

"  Why  not,  little  fuss-button  ?  "  demanded  Dan. 

"  I  don't  think  Uncle  Fritz  would  like  it." 

"  Did  he  ever  say  we  must  not  have  a  bull-fight  ?'" 

"  No,  I  don't  think  he  ever  did,"  admitted  Demi. 

"  Then  hold  your  tongue.  Drive  on,  Tom,  and  here 's 
a  red  rag  to  .flap  at  the  old  thing.  I  '11  help  you  to  stir 
her  up,"  and  over  the  wall  went  Dan,  full  of  the  new 
game,  and  the  rest  followed  like  a  flock  of  sheep  ;  even 
Demi,  who  sat  upon  the  bars,  and  watched  the  fun  with 
interest. 

Poor  Buttercup  was  not  in  a  very  good  mood,  for  she 
had  been  lately  bereft  of  her  calf,  and  mourned  for  the 
little  thing  most  dismally.  Just  now  she  regarded  all 
mankind  as  her  enemies  (and  I  do  not  blame  her),  so 
when  the  matadore  came  prancing  towards  her  with  the 
red  handkerchief  flying  at  the  end  of  his  long  lance, 
she  threw  up  her  head,  a.nd  gave  a  most  appropriate 
"  Moo !  "  Tommy  rode  gallantly  at  her,  and  Toby  re- 
cognizing an  old  friend,  was  quite  willing  to  approach ; 
but  when  the  lance  came  down  on  her  back  with  a  loud 
whack,  both  cow  and  donkey  w^ere  surprised  and  dis- 
gusted. Toby  backed  with  a  bray  of  remonstrance,  and 
Buttercup  lowered  her  horns  angrily. 

"At  her  again,  Tom ;  she's  jolly  cross,  and  will  do  it 
capitally ! "  called  Dan,  coming  up  behind  with  another 
rod,  while  Jack  and  Ned  followed  his  example. 

Seeing  herself  thus  beset,  and  treated  with  such  disre- 
spect, Buttercup  trotted  round  the  field,  getting  more 


A  FIEE  BRAND.  101 

and  more  bewildered  and  excited  every  moment,  for 
whichever  way  she  turned,  there  was  a  dreadful  boy, 
yelling  and  brandishing  a  new  and  very  disagreeable 
sort  of  whip.  It  was  great  fun  for  them,  but  real 
misery  for  her,  till  she  lost  patience  and  turned  the 
tables  in  the  most  unexpected  manner.  All  at  once  she 
wheeled  short  round,  and  charged  full  at  her  old  friend 
Toby,  whose  conduct  cut  her  to  the  heart.  Poor  slow 
Toby  backed  so  precipitately,  that  he  tripped  over  a 
stone,  and  down  went  horse,  matadore,  and  all,  in  one 
ignominious  heap,  while  distracted  Buttercup  took  a 
surprising  leap  over  the  wall,  and  galloped  wildly  out 
of  sight  down  the  road. 

"  Catch  her,  stop  her,  head  her  off !  run,  boys,  run ! " 
shouted  Dan,  tearing  after  her  at  his  best  pace,  for  she 
was  Mr.  Bhaer's  pet  Alderney,  and  if  any  thing  hap- 
pened to  her,  Dan  feared  it  would  be  all  over  with  him. 
Such  a  running  and  racing  and  bawling  and  puffing  as 
there  was  before  she  was  caught !  The  fish-poles  were 
left  behind ;  Toby  was  trotted  nearly  off  his  legs  in  the 
chase ;  and  every  boy  was  red,  breathless,  and  scared. 
They  found  poor  Buttercup  at  last  in  a  flower  garden, 
where  she  had  taken  refuge,  worn  out  with  the  long 
run.  Borrowing  a  rope  for  a  halter,  Dan  led  her  home, 
followed  by  a  party  of  very  sober  young  gentlemen, 
for  the  cow  was  in  a  sad  state,  having  strained  her 
shoulder  in  jumping,  so  that  she  limped,  her  eyes 
looked  wild,  and  her  glossy  coat  was  wet  and  muddy. 

"  You  '11  catch  it  this  time,  Dan,"  said  Tommy,  as  he 
led  the  wheezing  donkey  beside  the  maltreated  cow. 

"  So  will  you,  for  you  helped." 

"We  all  did,  but  Demi,"  added  Jack. 


102  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  He  put  it  into  our  heads,"  said  Ned. 

"I  told  you  not  to  do  it,"  cried  Demi,  who  was  most 
broken-hearted  at  poor  Buttercup's  state. 

"  Old  Bhaer  will  send  me  off,  I  guess.  Don't  care  if 
he  does,"  muttered  Dan,  looking  worried  in  spite  of 
his  words. 

•  "  We  '11  ask  him  not  to,  all  of  us,"  said  Demi,  and 
the  others  assented  with  the  exception  of  Stuffy,  who 
cherished  the  hope  that  all  the  punishment  might  fall' 
on  one  guilty  head.  Dan  only  said,  "Don't  bother 
about  me ; "  but  he  never  forgot  it,  even  though  he  led 
the  lads  astray  again,  as  soon  as  the  temptation  came. 

When  Mr.  Bhaer  saw  the  animal,  and  heard  the 
story,  he  said  very  little,  evidently  fearing  that  he 
should  say  too  much  in  the  first  moments  of  impa- 
tience. Buttercup  was  made  comfortable  in  her  stall, 
and  the  boys  sent  to  their  rooms  till  supper-time.  This 
brief  respite  gave  them  time  to  think  the  matter  over, 
to  wonder  what  the  penalty  would  be,  and  to  try  to 
imagine  where  Dan  would  be  sent.  He  whistled  brisk- 
ly in  his  room,  so  that  no  one  should  think  he  cared  a 
bit ;  but  while  he  waited  to  know  his  fate,  the  longing 
to  stay  grew  stronger  and  stronger,  the  more  he  re- 
called the  comfort  and  kindness  he  had  known  here, 
the  hardship  and  neglect  he  had  felt  elsewhere.  He 
knew  they  tried  to  help  him,  and  at  the  bottom  of  his 
heart  he  was  grateful,  but  his  rough  life  had  made  him 
hard  and  careless,  suspicious  and  wilful.  He  hated  re- 
straint of  any  sort,  and  fought  against  it  like  an  untamed 
creature,  even  while  he  knew  it  was  kindly  meant,  and 
dimly  felt  that  he  would  be  the  better  for  it.  He  made 
up  his  mind  to  be  turned  adrift  again,  to  knock  about 


A  FIRE  BRAND.  103 

the  city  as  he  had  done  nearly  all  his  life ;  a  prospect 
that  made  him  knit  his  black  brows,  and  look  about  the 
cosy  little  room  with  a  wistful  expression  that  would 
have  touched  a  much  harder  heart  than  Mr.  Bhaer' s  if 
he  had  seen  it.  It  vanished  instantly,  however,  wrhen 
the  good  man  came  in,  and  said  in  his  accustomed 
grave  way  — 

"I  have  heard  all  about  it,  Dan,  and  though  you 
have  broken  the  rules  again,  I  am  going  to  give  you 
one  more  trial,  to  please  Mother  Bhaer." 

Dan  flushed  up  to  his  forehead  at  this  unexpected 
reprieve,  but  he  only  said  in  his  gruff  way  — 

"I  didn't  know  there  was  any  rule  about  bull 
fighting." 

"  As  I  never  expected  to  have  any  at  Plumfield,  I 
never  did  make  such  a  rule,"  answered  Mr.  Bhaer,  smil- 
ing in  spite  of  himself  at  the  boy's  excuse.  Then  he 
added  gravely,  "  But  one  of  the  first  and  most  impor- 
tant of  our  few  laws  is  the  law  of  kindness  to  every 
dumb  creature  on  the  place.  I  want  everybody  and 
every  thing  to  be  happy  here,  'to  love,  and  trust,  and 
serve  us,  as  we  try  to  love  and  trust  and  serve  them 
faithfully  and  willingly.  I  have  often  said  that  you 
were  kinder  to  the  animals  than  any  of  the  other  boys, 
and  Mrs.  Bhaer  liked  that  trait  in  you  very  much,  be- 
cause she  thought  it  showed  a  good  heart.  But  you 
have  disappointed  us  in  that,  and  we  are  sorry,  for 
we  hoped  to  make  you  quite  one  of  us.  Shall  we  try 
again?" 

Dan's  eyes  had  been  on  the  floor,  and  his  hands  ner- 
vously picking  at  the  bit  of  wood  he  had  been  whit- 
tling as  Mr.  Bhaer  came  in,  but  when  he  heard  the  kind 


104  LITTLE  MEN. 

voice  ask  that  question,  he  looked  up  quickly,  and  said 
in  a  more  respectful  tone  than  he  had  ever  used  be- 
fore— 

"Yes,  please." 

"  Very  well  then,  we  will  say  no  more,  only  you  will 
stay  at  home  from  the  walk  to-morrow,  as  the  other 
boys  will,  and  all  of  you  must  wait  on  poor  Buttercup 
till  she  is  well  again." 

"I  will." 

"  Now,  go  down  to  supper,  and  do  your  best,  my  boy, 
more  for  your  own  sake  than  for  ours."  Then  Mr.  Bhaer 
shook  hands  with  him,  and  Dan  went  down  more  tamed 
by  kindness,  than  he  would  have  been  by  the  good 
whipping  which  Asia  had  strongly  recommended. 

Dan  did  try  for  a  day  or  two,  but  not  being  used  to 
it,  he  soon  tired  and  relapsed  into  his  old  wilful  ways. 
Mr.  Bhaer  was  called  from  home  on  business  one  day, 
and  the  boys  had  no  lessons.  They  liked  this,  and 
played  hard  till  bed-time,  when  most  of  them  turned 
in  and  slept  like  dormice.  Dan,  however,  had  a  plan 
in  his  head,  and  when  he  and  Nat  were  alone,  he  un- 
folded it. 

"  Look  here !  "  he  said,  taking  from  under  his  bed  a 
bottle,  a  cigar,  and  a  pack  of  cards  "  I  'm  going  to  have 
some  fun,  and  do  as  I  used  to  with  the  fellows  in  town. 
Here 's  some  beer,  I  got  it  of  the  old  man  at  the  station, 
and  this  cigar ;  you  can  pay  for  'em,  or  Tommy  will,  he 's 
got  heaps  of  money,  and  I  haven't  a  cent.  I  'm  going 
to  ask  him  in ;  no,  you  go,  they  won't  mind  you." 

"  The  folks  won't  like  it,"  began  Nat. 

"  They  won't  know.  Daddy  Bhaer  is  away,  and  Mrs. 
Bhaer's  busy  with  Ted  ;  he  's  got  croup  or  something, 


A  FIRE  BRAND.  105 

and  she  can't  leave  him.  We  shan't  sit  up  late  or  make 
any  noise,  so  where  's  the  harm  ?  " 

"Asia  will  know  if  we  burn  the  lamp  long,  she 
always  does." 

"  No,  she  won't,  I  've  got  the  dark  lantern  on  pur- 
pose, it  don't  give  much  light,  and  we  can  shut  it  quick 
if  we  hear  any  one  coming,"  said  Dan. 

This  idea  struck  Nat  as  a  fine  one,  and  lent  an  air  of 
romance  to  the  thing.  He  started  off  to  tell  Tommy, 
but  put  his  head  in  again  to  say  — 

"  You  want  Demi,  too,  don't  you  ?  " 

"No,  I  don't;  the  Deacon  will  roll  up  eyes  and 
preach  if  you  tell  him.  He  will  be  asleep,  so  just  tip 
the  wink  to  Tom  and  cut  back  again." 

Nat  obeyed,  and  returned  in  a  minute  with  Tommy 
half  dressed,  rather  tousled  about  the  head  and  very 
sleepy,  but  quite  ready  for  fun  as  usual. 

"  Now,  keep  quiet,  and  I  '11  show  you  how  to  play  a 
first-rate  game  called  '  Poker,' "  said  Dan,  as  the  three 
revellers  gathered  round  the  table,  on  which  were  set 
forth  the  bottle,  the  cigar,  and  the  cards.  "  First  we  '11 
all  have  a  drink,  then  we  '11  take  a  go  at  the  « weed,' 
and  then  we  '11  play.  That 's  the  way  men  do,  and  it 's 
jolly  fun." 

The  beer  circulated  in  a  mug,  and  all  three  smacked 
their  lips  over  it,  though  Nat  and  Tommy  did  not  like 
the  bitter  stuff.  The  cigar  was  worse  still,  but  they 
dared  not  say  so,  and  each  puffed  away  till  he  was 
dizzy  or  choked,  when  he  passed  the  "weed"  on  to 
his  neighbor.  Dan  liked  it,  for  it  seemed  like  old  times 
when  he  now  and  then  had  a  chance  to  imitate  the 
low  men  who  surrounded  him.  He  drank,  and  smoked, 


106  LITTLE  MEN. 

and  swaggered  as  much  like  them  as  he  could,  and, 
getting  into  the  spirit  of  the  part  he  assumed,  he  soon 
began  to  s wear  under  his  breath  for  fear  some  one 
should  hear  him.  "  You  mustn't ;  it 's  wicked  to  say 
4  Damn ! '  "  cried  Tommy,  who  had  followed  his  leader 
so  far. 

"Oh,  hang!  don't  you  preach,  but  play  away;  it's 
part  of  the  fun  to  swear." 

"  I  'd  rather  say  '  thunder  —  turtles,'  "  said  Tommy, 
who  had  composed  this  interesting  exclamation  and 
was  very  proud  of  it. 

"  And  I  '11  say  '  The  Devil ; '  that  sounds  well,"  added 
Nat,  much  impressed  by  Dan's  manly  ways. 

Dan  scoffed  at  their  "  nonsense,"  and  swore  stoutly 
as  he  tried  to  teach  them  the  new  game. 

But  Tommy  was  very  sleepy,  and  Nat's  head  began 
to  ache  with  the  beer  and  the  smoke,  so  neither  of  them 
was  very  quick  to  learn,  and  the  game  dragged.  The 
room  was  nearly  dark,  for  the  lantern  burned  badly ; 
they  could  not  laugh  loud  nor  move  about  much,  for 
Silas  slept  next  door  in  the  shed-chamber,  and  alto- 
gether the  party  was  dull.  In  the  middle  of  a  deal  Dan 
stopped  suddenly,  called  out,  "  Who 's  that  ? "  in  a 
startled  tone,  and  at  the  same  moment  drew  the  slide 
over  the  light.  A  voice  in  the  darkness  said,  tremu- 
lously, "  I  can't  find  Tommy,"  and  then  there  was  the 
quick  patter  of  bare  feet  running  away  down  the  entry 
that  led  from  the  wing  to  the  main  house. 

"It's  Demi!  he's  gone  to  call  some  one;  cut  into 
bed,  Tom,  and  don't  tell!"  cried  Dan,  whisking  all 
signs  of  the  revel  out  of  sight,  and  beginning  to  tear 
off  his  clothes,  while  Nat  did  the  same. 


A  FIEE  BRAND.  107 

Tommy  flew  to  his  room  and  dived  into  bed,  where 
he  lay  laughing  till  something  burned  his  hand,  when 
he  discovered  that  he  was  still  clutching  the  stump  of 
the  festive  cigar,  which  he  happened  to  be  smoking 
when  the  revel  broke  up. 

It  was  nearly  out,  and  he  was  about  to  extinguish  it 
carefully  when  Nursey's  voice  was  heard,  and  fearing 
it  would  betray  him  if  he  hid  it  in  the  bed,  he  threw  it 
underneath,  after  a  final  pinch  which  he  thought  fin- 
ished it. 

Nursey  came  in  with  Demi,  who  looked  much  amazed 
to  see  the  red  face  of  Tommy  reposing  peacefully  upon 
his  pillow. 

"  He  wasn't  there  just  now,  because  I  woke  up  and 
could  not  find  him  anywhere,"  said  Demi,  pouncing  on 
him. 

"  What  mischief  are  you  at  now,  bad  child  ?  "  asked 
ISTursey,  with  a  good-natured  shake,  which  made  the 
sleeper  open  his  eyes  to  say,  meekly,  — 

"  I  only  ran  into  Nat's  room  to  see  him  about  some- 
thing. Go  away,  and  let  me  alone ;  I  'm  awful  sleepy." 

Nursey  tucked  Demi  in,  and  went  ofi*  to  reconnoitre, 
but  only  found  two  boys  slumbering  peacefully  in  Dan's 
room.  "  Some  little  frolic,"  she  thought,  and  as  there 
was  no  harm  done  she  said  nothing  to  Mrs.  Bhaer,  who 
was  busy  and  worried  over  little  Teddy. 

Tommy  was  sleepy  and  telling  Demi  to  mind  his 
own  business  and  not  ask  questions,  he  was  snoring  in 
ten  minutes,  little  dreaming  what  was  going  on  under 
his  bed.  The  cigar  did  not  go  out,  but  smouldered  . 
away  on  the  straw  carpet  till  it  was  nicely  on  fire,  and 
a  hungry  little  flame  went  creeping  along  till  the  dimity 


108  LITTLE  MEN. 

bedcover  caught,  then  the  sheets,  and  then  the  bed 
itself.  The  beer  made  Tommy  sleep  heavily,  and  the 
smoke  stupefied  Demi,  so  they  slept  on  till  the  fire 
began  to  scorch  them,  and  they  were  in  danger  of  being 
burned  to  death. 

Franz  was  sitting  up  to  study,  and  as  he  left  the 
school-room  he  smelt  the  smoke,  dashed  up-stairs  and 
saw  it  coming  in  a  cloud  from  the  left  wing  of  the 
house.  Without  stopping  to  call  any  one,  he  ran  into 
the  room,  dragged  the  boys  from  the  blazing  bed,  and 
splashed  all  the  water  he  could  find  at  hand  on  to  the 
flames.  It  checked  but  did  not  quench  the  fire,  and 
the  children,  wakened  on  being  tumbled  topsy-turvy 
into  a  cold  hall,  began  to  roar  at  the  top  of  their 
voices.  Mrs.  Bhaer  instantly  appeared,  and  a  minute 
after  Silas  burst  out  of  his  room  shouting  "  Fire ! "  in  a 
tone  that  raised  the  whole  house.  A  flock  of  white 
goblins  with  scared  faces  crowded  into  the  hall,  and 
for  a  minute  every  one  was  panic-stricken. 

Then  Mrs.  Bhaer  found  her  wits,  bade  Nursey  see  to 
the  burnt  boys,  and  sent  Franz  and  Silas  down-stairs 
for  some  tubs  of  wet  clothes  which  she  flung  on  to  the 
bed,  over  the  carpet,  and  up  against  the  curtains,  now 
burning  finely,  and  threatening  to  kindle  the  walls. 

Most  of  the  boys  stood  dumbly  looking  on,  but  Dan 
and  Emil  worked  bravely,  running  to  and  fro  with 
water  from  the  bath-room,  and  helping  to  pull  down 
the  dangerous  curtains. 

The  peril  was  soon  over,  and  ordering  the  boys  all 
back  to  bed,  and  leaving  Silas  to  watch  lest  the  fire 
broke  out  again,  Mrs.  Bhaer  and  Franz  went  to  see 
how  the  poor  boys  got  on.  Demi  had  escaped  with 


A  FIRE  BRAND.  109 

one  burn  and  a  grand  scare,  but  Tommy  had  not  only 
most  of  his  hair  scorched  off  his  head,  but  a  great  burn 
on  his  arm,  that  made  him  half  crazy  with  the  pain. 
Demi  was  soon  made  cosy,  and  Franz  took  him  away 
to  his  own  bed,  where  the  kind  lad  soothed  his  fright 
and  hummed  him  to  sleep  as  cosily  as  a  woman. 
Nursey  watched  over  poor  Tommy  all  night,  trying  to 
ease  his  misery,  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  vibrated  between  him 
and  little  Teddy  with  oil  and  cotton,  paregoric  and 
squills,  saying  to  herself  from  time  to  time,  as  if  she 
found  great  amusement  in  the  thought,  "I  always 
knew  Tommy  would  set  the  house  on  fire,  and  now  he 
has  done  it ! " 

When  Mr.  Bhaer  got  home  next  morning  he  found  a 
nice  state  of  things.  Tommy  in  bed,  Teddy  wheezing 
like  a  little  grampus,  Mrs.  Jo  quite  used  up,  and  the 
whole  flock  of  boys  so  excited  that  they  all  talked  at 
once,  and  almost  dragged  him  by  main  force  to  view 
the  ruins.  Under  his  quiet  management  things  soon 
fell  into  order,  for  every  one  felt  that  he  was  equal  to 
a  dozen  conflagrations,  and  worked  with  a  will  at  what- 
ever task  he  gave  them. 

There  was  no  school  that  morning,  but  by  afternoon 
the  damaged  room  was  put  to  rights,  the  invalids  were 
better,  and  there  was  time  to  hear  and  judge  the  little 
culprits  quietly.  Nat  and  Tommy  told  their  parts  in 
the  mischief,  and  were  honestly  sorry  for  the  danger 
they  had  brought  to  the  dear  old  house  and  all  in  it. 
But  Dan  put  on  his  devil-may-care  look,  and  would  not 
own  that  there  was  much  harm  done. 

Now,  of  all  things,  Mr.  Bhaer  hated  drinking,  gam- 
bling, and  swearing;  smoking  he  Had  given  up  that 


110  LITTLE  MEN. 

the  lads  might  not  be  tempted  to  try  it,  and  it  grieved 
and  angered  him  deeply  to  find  that  the  boy,  with 
whom  he  had  tried  to  be  most  forbearing,  should  take 
advantage  of  his  absence  to  introduce  these  forbidden 
vices,  and  teach  his  innocent  little  lads  to  think  it 
manly  and  pleasant  to  indulge  in  them.  He  talked 
long  and  earnestly  to  the  assembled  boys,  and  ended 
by  saying,  with  an  air  of  mingled  firmness  and  re- 
gret— 

"  I  think  Tommy  is  punished  enough,  and  that  scar 
on  his  arm  will  remind  him  for  a  long  time  to  let  these 
things  alone.  Nat's  fright  will  do  for  him,  for  he  is 
really  sorry,  and  does  try  to  obey  me.  But  you,  Dan, 
have  been  many  times  forgiven,  and  yet  it  does  no 
good.  I  cannot  have  my  boys  hurt  by  your  bad  exam- 
ple, nor  my  time  wasted  in  talking  to  deaf  ears,  so  you 
can  say  good-by  to  them  all,  and  tell  Nursey  to  put 
up  your  things  in  my  little  black  bag." 

"  Oh !  sir,  where  is  he  going  ?  "  cried  Nat. 

"To  a  pleasant  place  up  in  the  country,  where  I 
sometimes  send  boys  when  they  don't  do  well  here. 
Mr.  Page  is  a  kind  man,  and  Dan  will  be  happy  there 
if  he  chooses  to  do  his  best." 

"  Will  he  ever  come  back  ?  "  asked  Demi. 

"That  will  depend  on  himself;  I  hope  so." 

As  he  spoke,  Mr.  Bhaer  left  the  room  to  write  his 
letter  to  Mr.  Page,  and  the  boys  crowded  round  Dan 
very  much  as  people  do  about  a  man  who  is  going  on  a 
long  and  perilous  journey  to  unknown  regions. 

"  I  wonder  if  you  '11  like  it,"  began  Jack. 

"  Shan't  stay  if  I  don't,"  said  Dan,  coolly. 

"Where  will  you  go?"  asked  Nat. 


A  FIRE  BRAND.  HI 

"I  may  go  to  sea,  or  out  west,  or  take  a  look  at 
California,"  answered  Dan,  with  a  reckless  air  that 
quite  took  away  the  breath  of  the  little  boys. 

"  Oh,  don't !  stay  with  Mr.  Page  awhile  and  then 
come  back  here ;  do,  Dan,"  pleaded  Nat,  much  affected 
at  the  whole  affair. 

"  I  don't  care  where  I  go,  or  how  long  I  stay,  and 
I  '11  be  hanged  if  I  ever  come  back  here,"  with  which 
wrathful  speech  Dan  went  away  to  put  up  his  things, 
every  one  of  which  Mr.  Bhaer  had  given  him. 

That  was  the  only  good-by  he  gave  the  boys,  fot 
they  were  all  talking  the  matter  over  in  the  barn  when 
he  came  down,  and  he  told  Nat  not  to  call  them.  The 
wagon  stood  at  the  door,  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  came  out  to 
speak  to  Dan,  looking  so  sad  that  his  heart  smote  him, 
and  he  said  in  a  low  tone  — 

"May  I  say  good-by  to  Teddy?  " 

"Yes,  dear;  go  in  and  kiss  him,  he  will  miss  his 
Danny  very  much." 

No  one  saw  the  look  in  Dan's  eyes  as  he  stooped 
over  the  crib,  and  saw  the  little  face  light  up  at  first  sight 
of  him,  but  he  heard  Mrs.  Bhaer  say  pleadingly  — 

"  Can't  we  give  the  poor  lad  one  more  i rial,  Fritz  ?  " 
and  Mr.  Bhaer  answer  in  his  steady  way  — 

"  My  dear,  it  is  not  best,  so  let  him  go  where  he  can 
do  no  harm  to  others,  while  they  do  good  to  him,  and 
by  and  by  he  shall  come  back,  I  promise  you." 

"  He 's  the  only  boy  we  ever  failed  with,  and  I  am  so 
grieved,  for  I  thought  there  was  the  making  of  a  fine 
man  in  him,  spite  of  his  faults." 

Dan  heard  Mrs.  Bhaer  sigh,  and  he  wanted  to  ask  for 
one  more  trial  himself,  but  his  pride  would  not  let  him, 


112  LITTLE  MEN. 

and  he  came  out  with  the  hard  look  on  his  face,  shook 
hands  without  a  word,  and  drove  away  with  Mr.  Bhaer, 
leaving  Nat  and  Mrs.  Jo  to  look  after  him  with  tears 
in  their  eyes. 

A  few  days  afterwards  they  received  a  letter  from 
Mr.  Page,  saying  that  Dan  was  doing  well,  whereat 
they  all  rejoiced.  But  three  weeks  later  came  another 
letter,  saying  that  Dan  had  run  away,  and  nothing  had 
been  heard  of  him,  whereat  they  all  looked  sober,  and 
Mr.  Bhaer  said  — 

"  Perhaps  I  ought  to  have  given  him  another  chance." 

Mrs.  Bhaer,  however,  nodded  wisely  and  answered, 
"  Don't  be  troubled,  Fritz ;  the  boy  will  come  back  to 
us,  I  'm  sure  of  it." 

But  time  went  on  and  no  Dan  came. 


CHAPTER    VII. 

NAUGHTY  NAN. 

tt  "pRITZ,  I  Ve  got  a  new  idea,"  cried  Mrs.  Bhaer,  as 

•*•        she  met  her  husband  one  day  after  school. 

"  Well,  my  dear,  what  is  it  ?  "  and  he  waited  willingly 
to  hear  the  new  plan,  for  some  of  Mrs.  Jo's  ideas  were 
so  droll,  it  was  impossible  to  help  laughing  at  them, 
though  usually  they  were  quite  sensible,  and  he  was 
glad  to  carry  them  out. 

"  Daisy  needs  a  companion,  and  the  boys  would  be 
all  the  better  for  another  girl  among  them ;  you  know 
we  believe  in  bringing  up  little  men  and  women  to- 
gether, and  it  is  high  time  we  acted  up  to  our  belief. 
They  pet  and  tyrannize  over  Daisy  by  turns,  and  she  is 
getting  spoilt.  Then  they  must  learn  gentle  ways,  and 
improve  their  manners,  and  having  girls  about  will  do 
it  better  than  any  thing  else." 

"  You  are  right,  as  usual.  Now,  who  shall  we  have  ?  " 
asked  Mr  Bhaer,  seeing  by  the  look  in  her  eye  that 
Mrs.  Jo  had  some  one  all  ready  to  propose. 

"  Little  Annie  Harding." 

"  What !  Naughty  Nan,  as  the  lads  call  her  ? "  cried 
Mr.  Bhaer,  looking  very  much  amused. 

"  Yes,  she  is  running  wild  at  home  since  her  mother 
8 


114  LITTLE  MEN. 

died,  and  is  too  bright  a  child  to  be  spoilt  by  servants. 
I  have  had  my  eye  on  her  for  some  time,  and  when  I 
met  her  father  in  town  the  other  day  I  asked  him  why 
he  did  not  send  her  to  school.  He  said  he  would 
gladly  if  he  could  find  as  good  a  school  for  girls,  as 
ours  was  for  boys.  I  know  he  would  rejoice  to  have 
her  come ;  so  suppose  we  drive  over  this  afternoon  and 
see  about  it." 

"  Have  not  you  cares  enough  now,  my  Jo,  without 
this  little  gypsy  to  torment  you?"  asked  Mr.  Bhaer, 
patting  the  hand  that  lay  on  his  arm. 

"  Oh  dear,  no,"  said  Mother  Bhaer,  briskly.  "  I  like 
it,  and  never  was  happier  than  since  I  had  my  wilder- 
ness of  boys.  You  see,  Fritz,  I  feel  a  great  sympathy 
for  Nan,  because  I  was  such  a  naughty  child  myself 
that  I  know  all  about  it.  She  is  full  of  spirits,  and  only 
needs  to  be  taught  what  to  do  with  them  to  be  as  nice 
a  little  girl  as  Daisy.  Those  quick  wits  of  hers  would 
enjoy  lessons  if  they  were  rightly  directed,  and  what 
is  now  a  tricksy  midget  would  soon  become  a  busy 
happy  child.  I  know  how  to  manage  her,  for  I  remem- 
ber how  my  blessed  mother  managed  me,  and  "  — 

"  And  if  you  succeed  half  as  well  as  she  did,  you  will 
have  done  a  magnificent  work,"  interrupted  Mr.  Bhaer, 
who  labored  under  the  delusion  that  Mrs.  B.  w^as  the 
best  and  most  charming  woman  alive. 

"  Now,  if  you  make  fun  of  my  plan  I  '11  give  you  bad 
coffee  for  a  week,  and  then  where  are  you,  sir  ? "  cried 
Mrs.  Jo,  tweaking  him  by  the  ear  just  as  if  he  was  one 
of  the  boys. 

"  Won't  Daisy's  hair  stand  erect  wTith  horror  at  Nan's 
wild  ways  ? "  asked  Mr.  Bhaer,  presently,  when  Teddy 


NAUGHTY  NAN.  115 

had  swarmed  up  his  waistcoat,  and  Rob  up  his  back, 
for  they  always  flew  at  their  father  the  minute  school 
was  done." 

"  At  first,  perhaps,  but  it  will  do  Posy  good.  She  is 
getting  prim  and  Bettyish,  and  needs  stirring  up  a  bit. 
She  always  has  a  good  time  when  Nan  com.es  over  to 
play,  and  the  two  will  help  each  other  without  knowing 
it.  Dear  me,  half  the  science  of  teaching  is  knowing 
how  much  children  do  for  one  another,  and  when  to 
mix  them." 

"  I  only  hope  she  won't  turn  out  another  firebrand." 

"  My  poor  Dan !  I  never  can  quite  forgive  myself 
for  letting  him  go,"  sighed  Mrs.  Bhaer. 

At  the  sound  of  the  name,  little  Teddy,  who  had 
never  forgotten  his  friend,  struggled  down  from  his 
father's  arms,  and  trotted  to  the  door,  looked  out  over 
the  sunny  lawn  with  a  wistful  face,  and  then  trotted 
back  again,  saying,  as  he  always  did  when  disappointed 
of  the  longed-for  sight  — 

"  My  Danny's  tummin'  soon." 

"  I  really  think  we  ought  to  have  kept  him,  if  only 
for  Teddy's  sake,  he  was  so  fond  of  him,  and  perhaps 
baby's  love  would  have  done  for  him  what  we  failed 
to  do." 

"  I  've  sometimes  felt  that  myself;  but  after  keeping 
the  boys  in  a  ferment,  and  nearly  burning  up  the  whole 
family,  I  thought  it  safer  to  remove  the  firebrand,  for 
a  time  at  least,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer. 

"  Dinner 's  ready,  let  me  ring  the  bell,"  and  Rob  be- 
gan a  solo  upon  that  instrument  which  made  it  impos- 
sible to  hear  one's  self  speak. 

"  Then,  I  may  have  Nan,  may  I  ?  "  asked  Mrs.  Jo. 


116  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  A  dozen  Nans  if  you  want  them,  my  dear,"  an- 
swered Mr.  Bhaer,  who  had  room  in  his  fatherly  heart 
for  all  the  naughty  neglected  children  in  the  world. 

When  Mrs.  Bhaer  returned  from  her  drive  that  after- 
noon, before  she  could  unpack  the  load  of  little  boys, 
without  whom  she  seldom  moved,  a  small  girl  of  ten 
skipped  out  at  the  back  of  the  carry-all,  and  ran  into 
the  house,  shouting  — 

"  Hi,  Daisy !  where  are  you  ?  " 

Daisy  came,  and  looked  pleased  to  see  her  guest,  but 
also  a  trifle  alarmed,  when  Nan  said,  still  prancing,  as 
if  it  was  impossible  to  keep  still  — 

u  I  'm  going  to  stay  here  always,  papa  says  I  may, 
and  my  box  is  coming  to-morrow,  all  my  things  had  to 
be  washed  and  mended,  and  your  aunt  came  and  carried 
me  off.  Isn't  it  great  fun  ?  " 

"  Why,  yes.  Did  you  bring  your  big  doll  ?  "  asked 
Daisy,  hoping  she  had,  for  on  the  last  visit  Nan  had 
ravaged  the  baby  house,  and  insisted  on  washing 
Blanche  Matilda's  plaster  face,  which  spoilt  the  poor 
dear's  complexion  for  ever. 

"  Yes,  she 's  somewhere  round,"  returned  Nan,  with 
most  unmaternal  carelessness.  "  I  made  you  a  ring  com- 
ing along,  and  pulled  the  hairs  out  of  Dobbin's  tail. 
Don't  you  want  it  ? "  and  Nan  presented  a  horse-hair 
ring  in  token  of  friendship,  as  they  had  both  vowed 
they  would  never  speak  to  one  another  again  when 
they  last  parted. 

Won  by  the  beauty  of  the  offering,  Daisy  grew  more 
cordial,  and  proposed  retiring  to  the  nursery,  but  Nan 
said,  "  No,  I  want  to  see  the  boys,  and  the  barn,"  and 
ran  off,  swinging  her  hat  by  one  string  till  it  broke, 
when  she  left  it  to  its  fate  on  the  grass. 


NAUGHTY  NAN.  117 

"Hullo!  Nan!"  cried  the  boys  as  she  bounced  in 
among  them  with  the  announcement  — 

"  I  'm  going  to  stay." 

"  Hooray ! "  bawled  Tommy  from  the  wall  on  which 
he  was  perched,  for  Nan  was  a  kindred  spirit,  and  he 
foresaw  "  larks  "  in  the  future. 

"  I  can  bat ;  let  me  play,"  said  Nan,  who  could  turn 
her  hand  to  any  thing,  and  did  not  mind  hard  knocks. 

"  We  ain't  playing  now,  and  our  side  beat  without 
you." 

"  I  can  beat  you  in  running,  any  way,"  returned  Nan, 
falling  back  on  her  strong  point. 

«  Can  she  ?  "  asked  Nat  of  Jack. 

"  She  runs  very  well  for  a  girl,"  answered  Jack,  who 
looked  down  upon  Nan  with  condescending  approval. 

"  Will  you  try  ? "  said  Nan,  longing  to  display  her 
powers. 

"  It 's  too  hot,"  and  Tommy  languished  against  the 
wall  as  if  quite  exhausted. 

"  What 's  the  matter  with  Stuffy  ?  "  asked  Nan,  whose 
quick  eyes  were  roving  from  face  to  face. 

"Ball  hurt  his  hand;  he  howls  at  every  thing," 
answered  Jack,  scornfully. 

"  I  don't,  I  never  cry,  no  matter  how  much  I  'm  hurt ; 
it's  babyish,"  said  Nan,  loftily. 

"Pooh!  I  could  make  you  cry  in  two  minutes," 
returned  Stuffy,  rousing  up. 

"  See  if  you  can." 

"  Go  and  pick  that  bunch  of  nettles  then,"  and  Stuffy 
.  pointed  to  a  sturdy  specimen  of  that  prickly  plant 
growing  by  the  wall. 

Nan  instantly  "  grasped  the  nettle,"  pulled  it  up,  and 


118  LITTLE  MEN. 

held  it  with  a  defiant  gesture,  in  spite  of  the  almost 
unbearable  sting. 

"  Good  for  you,"  cried  the  boys,  quick  to  acknowledge 
courage  even  in  one  of  the  weaker  sex. 

More  nettled  than  she  was,  Stuffy  determined  to  get 
a  cry  out  of  her  somehow,  and  he  said  tauntingly, 
"  You  are  used  to  poking  your  hands  into  every  thing, 
so  that  isn't  fair.  Now  go  and  bump  your  head  real 
hard  against  the  barn,  and  see  if  you  don't  howl  then." 

"  Don't  do  it,"  said  Nat,  who  hated  cruelty. 

5ut  Nan  was  off,  and  running  straight  at  the  barn, 
she  gave  her  head  a  blow  that  knocked  her  flat,  and 
sounded  like  a  battering-ram.  Dizzy,  but  undaunted 
she  staggered  up,  saying  stoutly,  though  her  face  was 
drawn  with  pain. 

"  That  hurt,  but  I  don't  cry." 

"  Do  it  again,"  said  Stuffy,  angrily ;  and  Nan  woidd 
have  done  it,  but  Nat  held  her ;  and  Tommy,  forgetting 
the  heat,  flew  at  Stuffy  like  a  little  game-cock,  roaring 
out  — 

"  Stop  it,  or  I  '11  throw  you  over  the  barn !  "  and  so 
shook  and  hustled  poor  Stuffy,  that  for 'a  minute  he  did 
not  know  whether  he  was  on  his  head  or  his  heels. 

"  She  told  me  to,"  was  all  he  could  say,  when  Tommy 
let  him  alone. 

"  Never  mind  if  she  did ;  it  is  awfully  mean  to  hurt 
a  little  girl,"  said  Demi,  reproachfully. 

"  Ho !  I  don't  mind ;  I  ain't  a  little  girl,  I  'm  older 
than  you  and  Daisy ;  so  now,"  cried  Nan,  ungratefully. 

"Don't  preach,  Deacon,  you  bully  Posy  every  day 
of  your  life,"  called  out  the  Commodore,  who  just  then 
hove  in  sight. 


NAUGHTY  NAN.  119 

<c  I  don't  hurt  her ;  do  I,  Daisy  ?  "  and  Demi  turned 
to  his  sister,  who  was  "  pooling "  Nan's  tingling  hands, 
and  recommending  water  for  the  purple  lump  rapidly 
developing  itself  on  her  forehead. 

"You  are  the  best  boy  in  the  world,"  promptly 
answered  Daisy ;  adding,  as  truth  compelled  her  to  do, 
"  You  do  hurt  me  sometimes,  but  you  don't  mean  to." 

"  Put  away  the  bats  and  things,  and  mind  what  you 
are  about,  my  hearties.  No  fighting  allowed  aboard 
this  ship,"  said  Eniil,  who  rather  lorded  it  over  the 
others. 

"How  do  you  do,  Madge  Wildfire? "said Mr.  Bhaer, 
as  Nan  came  in  with  the  rest  to  supper.  "Give  the 
right  hand,  little  daughter,  and  mind  thy  manners," 
he  added,  as  Nan  offered  him  her  left. 

"  The  other  hurts  me." 

"The  poor  little  hand!  what  has  it  been  doing  to 
get  those  blisters  ?  "  he  asked,  drawing  it  from  behind 
her  back,  where  she  had  put  it  with  a  look  which  made 
him  think  she  had  been  in  mischief. 

Before  Nan  could  think  of  any  excuse,  Daisy  burst 
out  with  the  whole  story,  during  which  Stuffy  tried  to 
hide  his  face  in  a  bowl  of  bread  and  milk.  When  the 
tale  was  finished,  Mr.  Bhaer  looked  down  the  long 
table  towards  his  wife,  and  said  with  a  laugh  in  his 
eyes  — 

"  This  rather  belongs  to  your  side  of  the  house,  so 
I  won't  meddle  with  it^  my  dear." 

Mrs.  Jo  knew  what  he  meant,  but  she  liked  her  little 
black  sheep  all  the  better  for  her  pluck,  though  she 
only  said  in  her  soberest  way  — 

"  Do  you  know  why  I  asked  Nan  to  come  here  ?  " 


120  LITTLE  MEN. 

"To  plague  me,"  muttered  Stuffy,  with  his  mouth 
full. 

"To  help  me  make  little  gentlemen  of  you,  and  I 
think  you  have  shown  that  some  of  you  need  it." 

Here  Stuffy  retired  into  his  bowl  again,  and  did  not 
emerge  till  Demi  made  them  all  laugh  by  saying,  in  his 
slow  wondering  way  — 

"  How  can  she,  when  she 's  such  a  torn-boy ! " 

"  That 's  just  it,  she  needs  help  as  much  as  you,  and 
I  expect  you  to  set  her  an  example  of  good  manners." 

"  Is  she  going  to  be  a  little  gentleman  too  ?  "  asked 
Rob. 

"  She  'd  like  it ;  wouldn't  you,  Nan  ?  "  added  Tommy. 

"  No,  I  shouldn't ;  I  hate  boys !  "  said  Nan,  fiercely, 
for  her  hand  still  smarted,  and  she  began  to  think  that 
she  might  have  shown  her  courage  in  some  wiser  way. 

"  I  am  sorry  you  hate  my  boys,  because  they  can  be 
well-mannered,  and  most  agreeable  when  they  choose. 
Kindness  in  looks  and  words  and  ways  is  true  polite- 
ness, and  any  one  can  have  it  if  they  only  try  to  treat 
other  people  as  they  like  to  be  treated  themselves." 

Mrs.  Bhaer  had  addressed  herself  to  Nan,  but  the 
boys  nudged  one  another,  and  appeared  to  take  the 
hint,  for  that  time  at  least,  and  passed  the  butter ;  said 
"  please,"  and  "  thank  you,"  "  yes,  sir,"  and  "  no,  ma'am," 
with  unusual  elegance  and  respect.  Nan  said  nothing, 
but  kept  herself  quiet  and  refrained  from  tickling 
Demi,  though  strongly  tempted  to  do  so,  because  of 
the  dignified  airs  he  put  on.  She  also  appeared  to  have 
forgotten  her  hatred  of  boys,  and  played  "  I  spy  "  with 
them  till  dark.  Stuffy  was  observed  to  offer  her 
frequent  sucks  of  his  candy-ball  during  the  game 


NAUGHTY  NAN.  121 

which  evidently  sweetened  her  temper,  for  the  last 
thing  she  said  on  going  to  bed  was  — 

"  When  my  battledore  and  shuttle-cock  comes,  I  '11 
let  you  all  play  with  'em." 

Her  first  remark  in  the  morning  was,  "  Has  my  box 
come  ? "  and  when  told  that  it  would  arrive  sometime 
during  the  day,  she  fretted  and  fumed,  and  whipped 
her  doll,  till  Daisy  was  shocked.  She  managed  to  exist, 
however,  till  five  o'clock,  when  she  disappeared,  and 
was  not  missed  till  supper-time,  because  those  at  home 
thought  she  had  gone  to  the  hill  with  Tommy  and 
Demi. 

"  I  saw  her  going  down  the  avenue  alone  as  hard  as 
she  could  pelt,"  said  Mary  Anne,  coming  in  with  the 
hasty-pudding,  and  finding  every  one  asking,  "  Where 
is  Nan?" 

"  She  has  run  home,  little  gypsy ! "  cried  Mrs.  Bhaer, 
looking  anxious. 

"  Perhaps  she  has  gone  to  the  station  to  look  after 
her  luggage,"  suggested  Franz. 

"  That  is  impossible,  she  does  not  know  the  way,  and 
if  she  found  it  she  could  never  carry  the  box  a  mile," 
said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  beginning  to  think  that  her  new  idea 
might  be  rather  a  hard  one  to  carry  out. 

"  It  would  be  like  her,"  and  Mr.  Bhaer  caught  up  his 
hat  to  go  and  find  the  child,  when  a  shout  from  Jack, 
who  was  at  the  window,  made  every  one  hurry  to  the 
door. 

There  was  Miss  Nan,  to  be  sure,  tugging  along  a  large 
band-box  tied  up  in  a  linen  bag.  Very  hot  and  dusty 
and  tired  did  she  look,  but  marched  stoutly  along,  and 
came  puffing  up  to  the  steps,  where  she  dropped  her 


122  LITTLE  MEN. 

load  with  a  sigh  of  relief,  and  sat  down  upon  it,  observ- 
ing as  she  crossed  her  tired  arms  — 

"  I  couldn't  wait  any  longer,  so  I  went  and  got  it." 

"  But  you  did  not  know  the  way,"  said  Tommy,  while 
the  rest  stood  round  enjoying  the  joke. 

"  Oh,  I  found  it,  I  never  get  lost." 

"  It 's  a  mile,  how  could  you  go  so  far  ?  " 

"  Well,  it  was  pretty  far,  but  I  rested  a  good  deal." 

"  Wasn't  that  thing  very  heavy  ?  " 

w  It 's  so  round,  I  couldn't  get  hold  of  it  good,  and  I 
thought  my  arms  would  break  right  off." 

"  I  don't  see  how  the  station-master  let  you  have  it," 
said  Tommy. 

"  I  didn't  say  any  thing  to  him.  He  was  in  the  little 
ticket  place,  and  didn't  see  me,  so  I  just  took  it  off  the 
platform." 

"  Run  down  and  tell  him  it  is  all  right,  Franz,  or  old 
Dodd  will  think  it  is  stolen,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer,  joining  in 
the  shout  of  laughter  at  Nan's  coolness. 

"  I  told  you  we  would  send  for  it  if  it  did  not  come. 
Another  time  you  must  wait,  for  you  will  get  into 
trouble  if  you  run  away.  Promise  me  this,  or  I  shall 
not  dare  to  trust  you  out  of  my  sight,"  said  Mrs.  Bhaer, 
wiping  the  dust  off  Nan's  little  hot  face. 

"Well,  I  won't,  only  papa  tells  me  not  to  put  off 
doing  things,  so  I  don't." 

"  That  is  rather  a  poser ;  I  think  you  had  better  give 
her  some  supper  now,  and  a  private  lecture  by  and  by," 
said  Mr.  Bhaer,  too  much  amused  to  be  angry  at  the 
young  lady's  exploit. 

The  boys  thought  it "  great  fun,"  and  Nan  entertained 
them  all  supper-time  with  an  account  of  her  adventures ; 


NAUGHTY  NAN.  123 

for  a  big  clog  had  barked  at  her,  a  man  had  laughed  at 
her,  a  woman  had  given  her  a  doughnut,  and  her  hat 
had  fallen  into  the  brook  when  she  stopped  to  drink, 
exhausted  with  her  exertion. 

"I  fancy  you  will  have  your  hands  full  now,  my  dear, 
Tommy  and  Nan  are  quite  enough  for  one  woman," 
said  Mr.  Bhaer,  half  an  hour  later. 

"  I  know  it  will  take  some  time  to  tame  the  child,  but 
she  is  such  a  generous,  warm-hearted  little  thing,  I 
should  love  her  even  if  she  were  twice  as  naughty," 
answered  Mrs.  Jo,  pointing  to  the  merry  group,  in  the 
middle  of  which  stood  Nan,  giving  away  her  things 
right  and  left,  as  lavishly  as  if  the  big  band-box  had 
no  bottom. 

It  was  those  good  traits  that  soon  made  little  "  Giddy 
gaddy,"  as  they  called  her,  a  favorite  with  every  one. 
Daisy  never  complained  of  being  dull  again,  for  Nan 
invented  the  most  delightful  plays,  and  her  pranks 
rivalled  Tommy's,  to  the  amusement  of  the  whole  school. 
She  buried  her  big  doll  and  forgot  it  for  a  week,  and 
found  it  well  mildewed  when  she  dug  it  up.  Daisy  was 
in  despair,  but  Nan  took  it  to  the  painter  who  was  at 
work  about  the  house,  got  him  to  paint  it  brick  red,  with 
staring  black  eyes,  then  she  dressed  it  up  with  featners, 
and  scarlet  flannel,  and  one  of  Ned's  leaden  hatchets ; 
and  in  the  character  of  an  Indian  chief,  the  late  Poppy- 
dilla  tomahawked  all  the  other  dolls,  and  caused  the 
nursery  to  run  red  with  imaginary  gore.  She  gave  away 
her  new  shoes  to  a  beggar  child,  hoping  to  be  allowed  to 
go  barefoot,  but  found  it  impossible  to  combine  charity 
and  comfort,  and  was  ordered  to  ask  leave  before  dis- 
posing of  her  clothes.  She  delighted  the  boyg  by  making 


124  LITTLE  MEN. 

a  fire-ship  out  of  a  shingle  with  two  large  sails  wet  with 
turpentine,  which  she  lighted,  and  then  sent  the  little 
vessel  floating  down  the  brook  at  dusk.  She  harnessed 
the  old  turkey-cock  to  a  straw  wagon,  and  made  him 
trot  round  the  house  at  a  tremendous  pace.  She  gave 
her  coral  necklace  for  four  unhappy  kittens,  which  had 
been  tormented  by  some  heartless  lads,  and  tended  them 
for  days  as  gently  as  a  mother,  dressing  their  wounds 
with  cold  cream,  feeding  them  with  a  doll's  spoon,  and 
mourning  over  them  when  they  died,  till  she  was  con- 
soled by  one  of  Demi's  best  turtles.  She  made  Silas 
tattoo  an  anchor  on  her  arm  like  his,  and  begged  hard 
to  have  a  blue  star  on  each  cheek,  but  he  dared  not  do 
it,  though  she  coaxed  and  scolded  till  the  soft-hearted 
fellow  longed  to  give  in.  She  rode  every  animal  on  the 
place,  from  the  big  horse  Andy  to  the  cross  pig,  from 
whom  she  was  rescued  with  difficulty.  Whatever  the 
boys  dared  her  to  do  she  instantly  attempted,  no  matter 
how  dangerous  it  might  be,  and  they  were  never  tired 
of  testing  her  courage. 

Mr.  Bhaer  suggested  that  they  should  see  who  would 
study  best,  and  Nan  found  as  much  pleasure  in  using 
her  quick  wits  and  fine  memory  as  her  active  feet  and 
merry  tongue,  while  the  lads  had  to  do  their  best  to 
keep  their  places,  for  Nan  showed  them  that  girls  could 
do  most  things  as  well  as  boys,  and  some  things  better. 
There  were  no  rewards  in  school,  but  Mr.  Bhaer's  "  Well 
done  !  "  and  Mrs.  Bhaer's  good  report  on  the  conscience 
book,  taught  them  to  love  duty  for  its  own  sake,  and 
try  to  do  it  faithfully,  sure  that  sooner  or  later  the  rec- 
ompense would  come.  Little  Nan  was  quick  to  feel 
the  new  atmosphere,  to  enjoy  it,  to  show  that  it  was 


NAUGHTY  NAN.  125 

what  she  needed ;  for  this  little  garden  was  full  of  sweet 
flowers,  half  hidden  by  the  weeds;  and  when  kind 
hands  gently  began  to  cultivate  it,  all  sorts  of  green 
shoots  sprung  up,  promising  to  blossom  beautifully  in 
the  warmth  of  love  and  care,  the  best  climate  for  young 
hearts  and  souls  all  the  world  over. 


CHAPTER    VIIL 
PRANKS  AND   PLAYS. 

AS  there  is  no  particular  plan  to  this  story,  except 
to  describe  a  few  scenes  in  the  life  at  Plum- 
field  for  the  amusement  of  certain  little  persons,  we  will 
gently  ramble  along  in  this  chapter  and  tell  some  of 
the  pastimes  of  Mrs.  Jo's  boys.  I  beg  leave  to  assure 
my  honored  readers  that  most  of  the  incidents  are 
taken  from  real  life,  and  that  the  oddest  are  the  truest ; 
for  no  person,  no  matter  how  vivid  an  imagination  he 
may  have,  can  invent  any  thing  half  so  droll  as  the 
freaks  arid  fancies  that  originate  in  the  lively  brains  of 
little  people. 

Daisy  and  Demi  were  full  of  these  whims,  and  lived 
in  a  world  of  their  own,  peopled  with  lovely  or  gro- 
tesque creatures,  to  whom  they  gave  the  queerest  names, 
and  with  whom  they  played  the  queerest  games.  One 
of  these  nursery  inventions  was  an  invisible  sprite  called 
"  The  Naughty  Kitty-mouse,"  whom  the  children  had 
believed  in,  feared,  and  served  for  a  long  time.  They 
seldom  spoke  of  it  to  any  one  else,  kept  their  rites  as 
private  as  possible  ;  and,  as  they  never  tried  to  describe 
it  even  to  themselves,  this  being  had  a  vague  mysterious 
charm  very  agreeable  to  Demi,  who  delighted  in  elves 


PRANKS  AND  PLATS.  127 

and  goblins.  A  most  whimsical  and  tyrannical  imp  was 
the  Naughty  Kitty-mouse,  and  Daisy  found  a  fearful 
pleasure  in  its  service,  blindly  obeying  its  most  absurd 
demands,  which  were  usually  proclaimed  from  the  lips 
of  Demi,  whose  powers  of  invention  were  great.  Rob 
and  Teddy  sometimes  joined  in  these  ceremonies,  and 
considered  them  excellent  fun,  although  they  did  not 
understand  half  that  went  on. 

One  day  after  school  Demi  whispered  to  his  sister, 
with  an  ominous  wag  of  the  head  — 

"  The  Kitty-mouse  wants  us  this  afternoon." 

"  What  for  ?  "  asked  Daisy,  anxiously. 

"  A  sackerryfice?  answered  Demi,  solemnly.  "  There 
must  be  a  fire  behind  the  big  rock  at  two  o'clock,  and 
we  must  all  bring  the  things  we  like  best,  and  burn 
them ! "  he  added,  with  an  awful  emphasis  on  the  last 
words. 

"  Oh,  dear !  I  love  the  new  paper  dollies  Aunt  Amy 
painted  for  me  best  of  any  thing,  must  I  burn  them 
up  ? "  cried  Daisy,  who  never  thought  of  denying  the 
unseen  tyrant  any  thing  it  demanded. 

"  Every  one.  I  shall  burn  my  boat,  my  best  scrap- 
book,  and  all  my  soldiers,"  said  Demi,  firmly. 

«  Well,  I  will ;  but  it 's  too  bad  of  Kitty-mouse  to 
want  our  very  nicest  things,"  sighed  Daisy. 

"A  sackerryfice  means  to  give  up  what  you  are  fond 
of,  so  we  must"  explained  Demi,  to  whom  the  new  idea 
had  been  suggested  by  hearing  Uncle  Fritz  describe 
the  customs  of  the  Greeks  to  the  big  boys  who  were 
reading  about  them  in  school. 

"  Is  Rob  coming  too  ?  "  asked  Daisy. 

"  Yes,  and  he  is  going  to  bring  his  toy  village ;  it  is 


128  LITTLE  MEN. 

all  made  of  wood,  you  know,  and  will  burn  nicely. 
We'll  have  a  grand  bonfire,  and  see  them  blaze  up, 
won't  we?" 

This  brilliant  prospect  consoled  Daisy,  and  she  ate 
her  dinner  with  a  row  of  paper  dolls  before  her,  as  a 
sort  of  farewell  banquet. 

At  the  appointed  hour  the  sacrificial  tram  set  forth, 
each  child  bearing  the  treasures  demanded  by  the  in- 
satiable Kitty-mouse.  Teddy  insisted  on  going  also, 
and  seeing  that  all  the  others  had  toys,  he  tucked  a 
squeaking  lamb  under  one  arm,  and  old  Annabella 
under  the  other,  little  dreaming  what  anguish  the  latter 
idol  was  to  give  him. 

"  Where  are  you  going,  my  chickens  ?  "  asked  Mrs. 
Jo,  as  the  flock  passed  her  door. 

"  To  play  by  the  big  rock ;  can't  we  ?  " 

"  Yes,  only  don't  go  near  the  pond,  and  take  good 
care  of  baby." 

"  I  always  do,"  said  Daisy,  leading  forth  her  charge 
with  a  capable  air. 

"  Now,  you  must  all  sit  round,  and  not  move  till  I 
tell  you.  This  flat  stone  is  an  altar,  and  I  am  going  to 
make  a  fire  on  it." 

Demi  then  proceeded  to  kindle  up  a  small  blaze,  as 
he  had  seen  the  boys  do  at  pic-nics.  When  the  flame 
burned  well,  he  ordered  the  company  to  march  round 
it  three  times  and  then  stand  in  a  circle. 

"  I  shall  begin,  and  as  fast  as  my  things  are  burnt, 
you  must  bring  yours." 

With  that  he  solemnly  laid  on  a  little  paper  book  full 
of  pictures,  pasted  in  by  himself;  this  was  followed  by 
a  dilapidated  boat,  and  then  one  by  one  the  unhappy 


PRANKS  AND  PLAYS.  129 

leaden  soldiers  marched  to  death.  Not  one  faltered  or 
hung  back,  from  the  splendid  red  and  yellow  captain, 
to  the  small  drummer  who  had  lost  his  legs ;  all  van- 
ished in  the  flames  and  mingled  in  one  common  pool 
of  melted  lead. 

"  Now,  Daisy ! "  called  the  high  priest  of  Kitty-mouse, 
when  his  rich  offerings  had  been  consumed,  to  the  great 
satisfaction  of  the  children. 

"  My  dear  dollies,  how  can  I  let  them  go  ?  "  moaned 
Daisy,  hugging  the  entire  dozen  with  a  face  full  of 
maternal  woe. 

"  You  must,"  commanded  Demi ;  and  with  a  farewell 
kiss  to  each,  Daisy  laid  her  blooming  dolls  upon  the 
coals. 

"  Let  me  keep  one,  the  dear  blue  thing,  she  is  so 
sweet,"  besought  the  poor  little  mamma,  clutching  her 
last  in  despair. 

"  More  !  more ! "  growled  an  awful  voice,  and  Demi 
cried,  w  That's  the  Kitty-mouse !  she  must  have  every 
one,  quick  or  she  will  scratch  us  ! " 

In  went  the  precious  blue  belle,  flounces,  rosy  hat, 
and  all,  and  nothing  but  a  few  black  flakes  remained  of 
that  bright  band. 

"Stand  the  houses  and  trees  round,  and  let  them 
catch  themselves ;  it  will  be  like  a  real  fire  then,"  said 
Demi,  who  liked  variety  even  in  his  "  sackeriyfices." 

Charmed  by  this  suggestion,  the  children  arranged 
the  doomed  village,  laid  a  line  of  coals  along  the  main 
street,  and  then  sat  down  to  watch  the  conflagration. 
It  was  somewhat  slow  to  kindle  owing  to  the  paint,  but 
at  last  one  ambitious  little  cottage  blazed  up,  fired  a 
tree  of  the  palm  species,  which  fell  on  to  the  roof  of  a 
9 


130  LITTLE  MEN. 

large  family  mansion,  and  in  a  few  minutes  the  entire 
town  was  burning  merrily.  The  wooden  population 
stood  and  stared  at  the  destruction  like  blockheads,  as 
they  were,  till  they  also  caught  and  blazed  away  with- 
out a  cry.  It  took  some  tune  to  reduce  the  town  to 
ashes,  and  the  lookers-on  enjoyed  the  spectacle  im- 
mensely, cheering  as  each  house  fell,  dancing  like  wild 
Indians  when  the  steeple  flamed  aloft,  and  actually 
casting  one  wretched  little  churn-shaped  lady,  who  had 
escaped  to  the  suburbs,  into  the  very  heart  of  the  fire. 

The  superb  success  of  this  last  offering  excited  Teddy 
to  such  a  degree,  that  he  first  threw  his  lamb  into  the 
conflagration,  and  before  it  had  time  even  to  roast,  he 
planted  poor  dear  Annabella  on  the  funeral  pyre.  Of 
course  she  did  not  like  it,  and  expressed  her  anguish 
and  resentment  in  a  way  that  terrified  her  infant  de- 
stroyer. Being  covered  with  kid,  she  did  not  blaze, 
but  did  what  was  worse,  she  squirmed.  First  one  leg 
curled  up,  then  the  other,  in  a  very  awful  and  lifelike 
manner;  next  she  flung  her  arms  over  her  head  as- if  in 
great  agony ;  her  head  itself  turned  on  her  shoulders, 
her  glass  eyes  fell  out,  and  with  one  final  writhe  of  her 
whole  body,  she  sank  down  a  blackened  mass  on  the 
ruins  of  the  town.  This  unexpected  demonstration 
startled  every  one  and  frightened  Teddy  half  out  of  his 
little  wits.  He  looked,  then  screamed  and  fled  toward 
the  house,  roaring  "  Mannar,"  at  the  top  of  his  voice. 

Mrs.  Bhaer  heard  the  outcry  and  ran  to  the  rescue, 
but  Teddy  could  only  cling  to  her  and  pour  out  in  his 
broken  way  something  about,  "  poor  Bella  hurted,"  "  a 
dreat  fire,"  and  "  all  the  dollies  dom."  Fearing  some 
dire  mishap,  his  mother  caught  him  up  and  hurried  to 


PRANKS  AND  PLAYS.  131 

the  scene  of  action,  where  she  found  the  blind  worship- 
pers of  Kitty-mouse  mourning  over  the  charred  remains 
of  the  lost  darling. 

"  What  have  you  been  at  ?  Tell  me  all  about  it," 
said  Mrs.  Jo,  composing  herself  to  listen  patiently,  for 
the  culprits  looked  so  penitent,  she  forgave  them  before- 
hand. 

With  some  reluctance  Demi  explained  their  play,  and 
Aunt  Jo  laughed  till  the  tears  ran  down  her  cheeks,  the 
children  were  so  solemn,  and  the  play  was  so  absurd. 

"  I  thought  you  were  too  sensible  to  play  such  a  silly 
game  as  this.  If  I  had  any  Kitty-mouse  I  'd  have  a 
good  one  who  liked  you  to  play  in  safe  pleasant  ways, 
and  not  destroy  and  frighten.  Just  see  what  a  ruin  you 
have  made ;  all  Daisy's  pretty  dolls,  Demi's  soldiers, 
and  Rob's  new  village,  besides  poor  Teddy's  pet  lamb, 
and  dear  old  Annabella.  I  shall  have  to  write  up  in  the 
nursery  the  verse  that  used  to  come  in  the  boxes  of 
toys  — 

'  The  children  of  Holland  take  pleasure  in  making, 
What  the  children  of  Boston  take  pleasure  in  breaking/ 

Only  I  shall  put  Plumfield  instead  of  Boston."      • 

"  We  never  will  again,  truly,  truly !  "  cried  the  repent- 
ant little  sinners,  much  abashed  at  this  reproof 

"  Demi  told  us  to,"  said  Rob. 

"Well,  I  heard  Uncle  tell  about  the  Greece  people, 
who  had  altars  and  things,  and  so  I  wanted  to  be  like 
them,  only  I  hadn't  any  live  creatures  to  sackerryfice, 
so  we  burnt  up  our  toys." 

"  Dear  me,  that  is  something  like  the  bean  story," 
said  Aunt  Jo,  laughing  again. 


132  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Tell  about  it>"  suggested  Daisy,  to  change  the  sub- 
ject. 

"  Once  there  was  a  poor  woman  who  had  three  or 
four  little  children,  and  she  used  to  lock  them  up  in  her 
room  when  she  went  out  to  work,  to  keep  them  safe. 
One  day  when  she  was  going  away  she  said,  '  Now,  my 
dears,  don't  let  baby  fall  out  of  window,  don't  play  with 
the  matches,  and  don't  put  beans  up  your  noses.'  Now 
the  children  had  never  dreamed  of  doing  that  last  thing, 
but  she  put  it  into  their  heads,  and  the  minute  she  was 
gone,  they  ran  and  stuffed  their  naughty  little  noses  full 
of  beans,  just  to  see  how  it  felt,  and  she  found  them  all 
crying  when  she  came  home." 

"Did  it  hurt?"  asked  Rob,  with  such  intense  interest 
that  his  mother  hastily  added  a  warning  sequel,  lest  a 
new  edition  of  the  bean  story  should  appear  in  her  own 
family. 

"Very  much,  as  I  know,  for  when  my  mother  told 
me  this  story,  I  was  so  silly  that  I  went  and  tried  it  my- 
self. I  had  no  beans,  so  I  took  some  little  pebbles,  and 
poked  several  into  my  nose.  I  did  not  like  it  at  all,  and 
wanted  to  take  them  out  again  very  soon,  but  one 
would  not  come,  and  I  was  so  ashamed  to  tell  what  a 
goose  I  had  been  that  I  went  for  hours  with  the  stone 
hurting  me  very  much.  At  last  the  pain  got  so  bad  I 
had  to  tell,  and  when  my  mother  could  not  get  it  out 
'the  doctor  came.  Then  I  was  put  in  a  chair  and  held 
tight,  Rob,  while  he  used  his  ugly  little  pincers  till  the 
stone  hopped  out.  Dear  me !  how  my  wretched  little 
nose  did  ache,  and  how  people  laughed  at  me ! "  and 
Mrs.  Jo  shook  her  head  in  a  dismal  way,  as  if  the  mem- 
ory of  her  sufferings  was  too  much  for  her. 


PBANKS  AND  PLATS.  133 

Rob  looked  deeply  impressed  and  I  am  glad  to  say 
took  the  warning  to  heart.  Demi  proposed  that  they 
should  bury  poor  Annabella,  and  in  the  interest  of  the 
funeral  Teddy  forgot  his  fright.  Daisy  was  soon  con- 
soled by  another  batch  of  dolls  from  Aunt  Amy,  and 
the  Naughty  Kitty-mouse  seemed  to  be  appeased  by  the 
last  offerings,  for  she  tormented  them  no  more. 

"  Brops  "  was  the  name  of  a  new  and  absorbing  play, 
invented  by  Bangs.  As  this  interesting  animal  is  not 
to  be  found  in  any  Zoological  Garden,  unless  Du  Chaillu 
has  recently  brought  one  from  the  wilds  of  Africa,  I 
will  mention  a  few  of  its  peculiar  habits  and  traits,  for 
the  benefit  of  inquiring  minds.  The  Brop  is  a  winged 
quadruped,  with  a  human  face  of  a  youthful  and  merry 
aspect.  When  it  walks  the  earth  it  grunts,  when  it 
soars  it  gives  a  shrill  hoot,  occasionally  it  goes  erect, 
and  talks  good  English.  Its  body  is  usually  covered 
with  a  substance  much  resembling  a  shawl,  sometimes 
red,  sometimes  blue,  often  plaid,  and,  strange  to  say, 
they  frequently  change  skins  with  one  another.  On 
their  heads  they  have  a  horn  very  like  a  stiff  brown 
paper  lamp-lighter.  Wings  of  the  same  substance  flap 
upon  their  shoulders  when  they  fly ;  this  is  never  very 
far  from  the  ground,  as  they  usually  fall  with  violence 
if  they  attempt  any  lofty  flights.  They  browse  over  the 
earth,  but  can  sit  up  and  eat  like  the  squirrel.  Their 
favorite  nourishment  is  the  seed-cake ;  apples  also  are 
freely  taken,  and  sometimes  raw  carrots  are  nibbled 
when  food  is  scarce.  They  live  in  dens,  where  they 
have  a  sort  of  nest,  much  like  a  clothes-basket,  in  which 
the  little  Brops  play  till  their  wings  are  grown.  These 
singular  animals  quarrel  at  times,  and  it  is  on  these 


134  LITTLE  MEN. 

occasions  that  they  burst  into  human  speech,  call  each 
other  names,  cry,  scold,  and  sometimes  tear  off  horns 
and  skin,  declaring  fiercely  that  they  "won't  play." 
The  few  privileged  persons  who  have  studied  them  are 
inclined  to  think  them  a  remarkable  mixture  of  the 
monkey,  the  sphinx,  the  roc,  and  the  queer  creatures 
seen  by  the  famous  Peter  Wilkins. 

This  game  was  a  great  favorite,  and  the  younger 
children  beguiled  many  a  rainy  afternoon  flapping  or 
creeping  about  the  nursery,  acting  like  little  bedlamites 
and  being  as  merry  as  little  grigs.  To  be  sure,  it  was 
rather  hard  upon  clothes,  particularly  trouser-knees  and 
jacket-elbows ;  but  Mrs.  Bhaer  only  said,  as  she  patched 
and  darned  — 

"  We  do  things  just  as  foolish,  and  not  half  so  harm- 
less. If  I  could  get  as  much  happiness  out  of  it  as  the 
little  dears  do,  I  'd  be  a  Brop  myself." 

Nat's  favorite  amusements  were  working  in  his  gar- 
den, and  sitting  in  the  willow-tree  with  his  violin,  for 
that  green  nest  was  a  fairy  world  to  him,  and  there  he 
loved  to  perch,  making  music  like  a  happy  bird.  The 
lads  called  him  "  Old  Chirper,"  because  he  was  always 
humming,  whistling,  or  fiddling,  and  they  often  stopped 
a  minute  in  their  work  or  play  to  listen  to  the  soft  tones 
of  the  violin,  which  seemed  to  lead  a  little  orchestra  of 
summer  sounds.  The  birds  appeared  to  regard  him  as 
one  of  themselves,  "and  fearlessly  sat  on  the  fence  or 
lit  among  the  boughs  to  watch  him  with  their  quick 
bright  eyes.  The  robins  in  the  apple-tree  near  by  evi- 
dently considered  him  a  friend,  for  the  father  bird 
hunted  insects  close  beside  him,  and  the  little  mother 
brooded  as  confidingly  over  her  blue  eggs  as  if  the  boy 


PRANKS  AND  PLAYS.  135 

was  only  a  new  sort  of  blackbird,  who  cheered  her  pa- 
tient watch  with  his  song.  The  brown  brook  baobled 
and  sparkled  below  him,  the  bees  haunted  the  clover 
fields  on  either  side,  friendly  faces  peeped  at  him  as 
they  passed,  the  old  house  stretched  its  wide  wings  hos- 
pitably toward  him,  and  with  a  blessed  sense  of  rest  and 
love,  and  happiness,  Nat  dreamed  for  hours  in  this 
nook,  unconscious  what  healthful  miracles  were  being 
wrought  upon  him. 

One  listener  he  had  who  never  tired,  and  to  whom 
he  was  more  than  a  mere  schoolmate.  Poor  Billy's 
chief  delight  was  to  lie  beside  the  brook,  watching 
leaves  and  bits  of  foam  dance  by,  listening  dreamily  to 
the  music  in  the  willow-tree.  He  seemed  to  think  Nat 
a  sort  of  angel  who  sat  aloft  and  sang,  for  a  few  baby 
memories  still  lingered  in  his  mind  arid  seemed  to 
grow  brighter  at  these  times.  Seeing  the  interest  he 
took  in  Nat,  Mr.  Bhaer  begged  him  to  help  them  lift 
the  cloud  from  the  feeble  brain  by  this  gentle  spell. 
Glad  to  do  any  thing  ^to  show  his  gratitude,  Nat  always 
smiled  on  Billy  when  he  followed  him  about,  and  let 
him  listen  undisturbed  to  the  music  which  seemed  to 
speak  a  language  he  could  understand.  "Help  one 
another,"  was  a  favorite  Plumfield  motto,  and  Nat 
learned  how  much  sweetness  is  added  to  life  by  trying 
to  live  up  to  it. 

Jack  Ford's  peculiar  pastime  was  buying  and  selling ; 
and  he  bid  fair  to  follow  in  the  footsteps  of  his  uncle,  a 
country  merchant,  who  sold  a  little  of  every  thing  and 
made  money  fast.  Jack  had  seen  the  sugar  sanded, 
the  molasses  watered,  the  butter  mixed  with  lard,  and 
things  of  that  kind,  and  labored  under  the  delusion 


136  LITTLE  MEN. 

that  it  was  all  a  proper  part  of  the  business.  His 
stock  in  trade  was  of  a  different  sort,  but  he  made  as 
much  as  he  could  out  of  every  worm  he  sold,  and 
always  got  the  best  of  the  bargain  when  he  traded 
with  the  boys  for  string,  knives,  fish-hooks,  or  what- 
ever the  article  might  be.  The  boys,  who  all  had 
nicknames,  called  him  "Skinflint,"  but  Jack  did  not 
care  as  long  as  the  old  tobacco-pouch  in  which  he  kept 
his  money  grew  heavier  and  heavier. 

He  established  a  sort  of  auction-room,  and  now  and 
then  sold  off  all  the  odds  and  ends  he  had  collected,  or 
helped  the  lads  exchange  things  with  one  another.  He 
got  bats,  balls,  hockey-sticks,  &c.,  cheap,  from  one  set 
of  mates,  furbished  them  up,  and  let  them  for  a  few 
cents  a  time  to  another  set,  often  extending  his  business 
beyond  the  gates  of  Plumfield  in  spite  of  the  rules. 
Mr.  Bhaer  put  a  stop  to  some  of  his  speculations,  and 
tried  to  give  him  a  better  idea  of  business  talent  than 
mere  sharpness  in  overreaching  his  neighbors.  Now 
and  then  Jack  made  a  bad  bargain,  and  felt  worse 
about  it  than  about  any  failure  in  lessons  or  conduct, 
and  took  his  revenge  on  the  next  innocent  customer 
who  came  along.  His  account-book  was  a  curiosity ; 
and  his  quickness  at  figures  quite  remarkable.  Mr. 
Bhaer  praised  him  for  this,  and  tried  to  make  his  sense 
of  honesty  and  honor  as  quick;  and,  by  and  by,  when 
Jack  found  that  he  could  not  get  on  without  these 
virtues,  he  owned  that  his  teacher  was  right. 

Cricket  and  football  the  boys  had  of  course  —  but, 
after  the  stirring  accounts  of  these  games  in  the  immor- 
tal "  Tom  Brown  at  Rugby,"  no  feeble  female  pen  may 
venture  to  do  more  than  respectfully  allude  to  them* 


PRANKS  AND  PLATS.  137 

Emil  spent  his  holidays  on  the  river  or  the  pond,  and 
drilled  the  elder  lads  for  a  race  with  certain  town  boys, 
who  now  and  then  invaded  their  territory.  The  race 
duly  came  off,  but  as  it  ended  in  a  general  shipwreck, 
it  was  not  mentioned  in  public ;  and  the  Commodore 
had  serious  thoughts  of  retiring  to  a  desert  island,  so 
disgusted  was  he  with  his  kind  for  a  time.  No  desert 
island  being  convenient,  he  was  '  forced  to  remain 
among  his  friends,  and  found  consolation  in  building  a 
boat-house. 

The  little  girls  indulged  in  the  usual  plays  of  their 
age,  improving  upon  them  somewhat  as  their  lively 
fancies  suggested.  The  chief  and  most  absorbing  play 
was  called  "  Mrs.  Shakespeare  Smith ; "  the  name  was 
provided  by  Aunt  Jo,  but  the  trials  of  the  poor  lady 
were  quite  original.  Daisy  was  Mrs.  S.  S.,  and  Nan  by 
turns  her  daughter  or  a  neighbor,  Mrs.  Giddygaddy. 

No  pen  can  describe  the  adventures  of  these  ladies, 
for  in  one  short  afternoon  their  family  was  the  scene 
of  births,  marriages,  deaths,  floods,  earthquakes,  tea- 
parties,  and  balloon  ascensions.  Millions  of  miles  did 
these  energetic  women  travel,  dressed  in  hats  and 
habits  never  seen  before  by  mortal  eye,  perched  on  the 
bed,  driving  the  posts  like  mettlesome  steeds,  and 
bouncing  up  and  down  till  their  heads  spun.  Fits 
and  fires  were  the  pet  afflictions,  with  a  general  mas- 
sacre now  and  then  by  way  of  change.  Nan  was 
never  tired  of  inventing  fresh  combinations,  and  Daisy 
followed  her  leader  with  blind  admiration.  Poor 
Teddy  was  a  frequent  victim,  and  was  often  rescued 
from  real  danger,  for  the  excited  ladies  were  apt  to 
forget  that  he  was  not  of  the  same  stuff  as  their  long- 


138  LITTLE  MEN. 

suffering  dolls.  Once  he  was  shut  into  a  closet  for  a 
dungeon,  and  forgotten  by  the  girls,  who  ran  off  to 
some  out-of-door  game.  Another  time  he  was  half 
drowned  in  the  bath-tub,  playing  be  a  "  cunning  little 
whale."  And,  worst  of  all,  he  was  cut  down  just  in 
time  after  being  hung  up  for  a  robber. 

But  the  institution  most  patronized  by  .all  was  the 
Club.  It  had  no  other  name,  and  it  needed  none,  being 
the  only  one  in  the  neighborhood.  The  elder  lads  got 
it  up,  and  the  younger  were  occasionally  admitted  if 
they  behaved  well.  Tommy  and  Demi  were  honoraiy 
members,  but  were  always  obliged  to  retire  unpleas- 
antly early,  owing  to  circumstances  over  which  they 
had  no  control.  The  proceedings  of  this  club  were 
somewhat  peculiar,  for  it  met  at  all  sorts  of  places  and 
hours,  had  all  manner  of  queer  ceremonies  and  amuse- 
ments, and  now  and  then  was  broken  up  tempestuously, 
only  to  be  re-established,  however,  on  a  firmer  basis. 

Rainy  evenings  the  members  met  in  the  school-room, 
and  passed  the  time  in  games :  chess,  morris,  backgam- 
mon, fencing  matches,  recitations,  debates,  or  dramatic 
performances  of  a  darkly  tragical  nature.  In  summer 
the  barn  was  the  rendezvous,  and  what  went  on  there  no 
uninitiated  mortal  knows.  On  sultry  evenings  the  Club 
adjourned  to  the  brook  for  aquatic  exercises,  and  the 
members  sat  about  in  airy  attire,  frog-like  and  cool. 
On  such  occasions  the  speeches  were  unusually  elo- 
quent, quite  flowing,  as  one  might  say ;  and  if  any  ora- 
tor's remarks  displeased  the  audience,  cold  water  was 
thrown  upon  him  till  his  ardor  was  effectually  quenched. 
Franz  was  president,  and  maintained  order  admirably, 
considering  the  unruly  nature  of  the  members.  Mr. 


PRANKS  AND  PLAYS.  139 

Bhaer  never  interfered  with  their  affairs,  and  was  re- 
warded for  this  wise  forbearance  by  being  invited  now 
and  then  to  behold  the  mysteries  unveiled,  which  he 
appeared  to  enjoy  much. 

When  Nan  came  she  wished  to  join  the  Club,  and 
caused  great  excitement  and  division  among  the  gen- 
tlemen by  presenting  endless  petitions,  both  written 
and  spoken,  disturbing  their  solemnities  by  insulting 
them  through  the  keyhole,  performing  vigorous  solos 
on  the  door,  and  writing  up  derisive  remarks  on  walls 
and  fences,  for  she  belonged  to  the  "Irrepressibles." 
Finding  these  appeals  vain,  the  girls,  by  the  advice  of 
Mrs.  Jo,  got  up  an  institution  of  their  own,  which  they 
called  the  Cosy  Club.  To  this  they  magnanimously 
invited  the  gentlemen  whose  youth  excluded  them  from 
the  other  one,  and  entertained  these  favored  beings  so 
well  with  little  suppers,  new  games  devised  by  Nan, 
and  other  pleasing  festivities,  that,  one  by  one,  the  elder 
boys  confessed  a  desire  to  partake  of  these  more  elegant 
enjoyments,  and,  after  much  consultation,  finally  decided 
to  propose  an  interchange  of  civilities. 

The  members  of  the  Cosy  Club  were  invited  to  adorn 
the  rival  establishment  on  certain  evenings,  and  to  the 
surprise  of  the  gentlemen  their  presence  was  not  found 
to  be  a  restraint  upon  the  conversation  or  amusement 
of  the  regular  frequenters ;  which  could  not  be  said  of 
all  Clubs,  I  fancy.  The  ladies  responded  handsomely 
and  hospitably  to  these  overtures  of  peace,  and  both 
institutions  flourished  long  and  happily. 


CHAPTER    IX. 
DAISY'S  BALL. 

S.  SHAKESPEARE  SMITH  would  like  to 
have  Mr.  John  Brooke,  Mr.  Thomas  Bangs, 
and  Mr.  Nathaniel  Blake  to  come  to  her  ball  at  three 
o'clock  to-day. 

uf.S. —  Nat  must  bring  his  fiddle,  so  we  can  dance, 
and  all  the  boys  must  be  good,  or  they  cannot  have  any 
of  the  nice  things  we  have  cooked." 

This  elegant  invitation  would,  I  fear,  have  been  de- 
clined, but  for  the  hint  given  in  the  last  line  of  the 
postscript. 

"  They  have  been  cooking  lots  of  goodies,  I  smelt  'em. 
Let 's  go,"  said  Tommy. 

"  We  needn't  stay  after  the  feast,  you  know,"  added 
Demi. 

"  I  never  went  to  a  ball.  What  do  you  have  to  do  ?  " 
asked  Nat. 

"  Oh,  we  just  play  be  men,  and  sit  round  stiff  and 
stupid  like  grown-up  folks,  and  dance  to  please  the 
girls.  Then  we  eat  up  every  thing,  and  come  away  as 
soon  as  we  can." 

"  I  think  I  could  do  that,"  said  Nat,  after  considering 
Tommy's  description  for  a  minute. 


DAISTS  BALL.  141 

"I'll  write  and  say  we  '11  come ; "  and  Demi  despatched 
the  following  gentlemanly  reply  — 

"  We  will  all  come.  Please  have  lots  to  eat.  —  J.  B. 
Esquire." 

Great  was  the  anxiety  of  the  ladies  about  their  first 
ball,  because  if  eveiy  thing  went  well  they  intended  to 
give  a  dinner-party  to  the  chosen  few. 

"  Aunt  Jo  likes  to  have  the  boys  play  with  us,  if  they 
are  not  rough ;  so  we  must  make  them  like  our  balls, 
then  they  will  do  them  good,"  said  Daisy,  with  her 
maternal  air,  as  she  set  the  table  and  surveyed  the  store 
of  refreshments  with  an  anxious  eye. 

"Demi  and  Nat  will  be  good,  but  Tommy  will  do 
something  bad,  I  know  he  will,"  replied  Nan,  shaking 
her  head  over  the  little  cake-basket  which  she  was 
arranging. 

"Then  I  shall  send  him  right  home,"  said  Daisy, 
with  decision. 

"  People  don't  do  so  at  parties,  it  isn't  proper." 

"  I  shall  never  ask  him  any  more." 

"  That  would  do.  He'd  be  sorry  not  to  come  to  the 
dinner-ball,  wouldn't  he  ?  " 

"  I  guess  he  would !  we  '11  have  the  splendidest  things 
ever  seen,  won't  we?  Real  soup  with  a  ladle  and  a 
tureem  (she  meant  tureen)  and  a  little  bird  for  turkey, 
and  gravy,  and  all  kinds  of  nice  vegytubbles."  Daisy 
never  could  say  vegetables  properly,  and  had  given  up 
trying. 

"  It  is  'most  three,  and  we  ought  to  dress,"  said  Nan, 
who  had  arranged  a  fine  costume  for  the  occasion,  and 
was  anxious  to  wear  it. 

"  I  am  the  mother,  so  I  shan't  dress  up  much,"  said 


142  LITTLE  MEN. 

Daisy,  putting  on  a  night-cap  ornamented  with  a  red 
bow,  one  of  her  Aunt's  long  skirts,  and  a  shawl ;  a 
pair  of  spectacles,  and  a  large  pocket  handkerchief 
completed  her  toilette,  making  a  plump,  rosy,  little 
matron  of  her. 

Nan  had  a  wreath  of  artificial  flowers,  a  pair  of  old 
pink  slippers,  a  yellow  scarf,  a  green  muslin  skirt,  and 
a  fan  made  of  feathers  from  the  duster ;  also,  as  a  last 
touch  of  elegance,  a  smelling-bottle  without  any  smell 
In  it. 

"I  am  the  daughter,  so  I  rig  up  a  good  deal,  and  I 
must  sing  and  dance,  and  talk  more  than  you  do. 
The  mothers  only  get  the  tea  and  be  proper,  you 
know." 

A  sudden  very  loud  knock  caused  Miss  Smith  to  fly 
into  a  chair,  and  fan  herself  violently,  while  her  mamma 
sat  bolt  upright  on  the  sofa,  and  tried  to  look  quite 
calm  and  "  proper."  Little  Bess,  who  was  on  a  visit, 
acted  the  part  of  maid,  and  opened  the  door,  saying 
with  a  smile,  "  Wart  in  gemplemun,  it 's  all  weady." 

In  honor  of  the  occasion,  the  boys  wore  high  paper 
collars,  tall  black  hats,  and  gloves  of  every  color  and 
material,  for  they  were  an  afterthought,  and  not  a  boy 
among  them  had  a  perfect  pair. 

"  Good  day,  mum,"  said  Demi,  in  a  deep  voice,  which 
was  so  hard  to  keep  up  that  his  remarks  had  to  be 
extremely  brief. 

Every  one  shook  hands  and  then  sat  down,  looking 
so  funny,  yet  so  sober,  that  the  gentlemen  forgot  their 
manners,  and  rolled  in  their  chairs  with  laughter. 

"  Oh  don't ! "  cried  Mi's.  Smith,  much  distressed. 

u  You  can't  ever  come  again  if  you  act  so,"  added 


DAISY'S  BALL.  143 

Miss  Smith,  rapping  Mr.  Bangs  with  her  bottle  because' 
he  laughed  loudest. 

"  I  can't  help  it,  you  look  so  like  fury,"  gasped  Mr. 
Bangs,  with  most  uncourteous  candor. 

"  So  do  you,  but  I  shouldn't  be  so  rude  as  to  say  so. 
He  shan't  come  to  the  dinner-ball,  shall  he,  Daisy  ?  " 
cried  Nan,  indignantly. 

"  I  think  we  had  better  dance  now.  Did  you  bring 
your  fiddle,  sir  ?  "  asked  Mrs.  Smith,  trying  to  preserve 
her  polite  composure. 

"  It  is  outside  the  door,"  and  Nat  went  to  get  it. 

"Better  have  tea  first,"  proposed  the  unabashed 
Tommy,  winking  openly  at  Demi  to  remind  him  that 
the  sooner  the  refreshments  were  secured  the  sooner 
they  could  escape. 

"  No,  we  never  have  supper  first ;  and  if  you  don't 
dance  well  you  won't  have  any  supper  at  all,  not  one  bit^ 
sir?  said  Mrs.  Smith,  so  sternly  that  her  wild  guests 
saw  she  was  not  to  be  trifled  with,  and  grew  overwhelm- 
ingly civil  all  at  once. 

"  I  will  take  Mr.  Bangs  and  teach  him  the  polka, 
for  he  does  not  know  it  fit  to  be  seen,"  added  the 
hostess,  with  a  reproachful  look  that  sobered  Tommy 
at  once. 

Nat  struck  up,  and  the  ball  opened  with  two  couples, 
who  went  conscientiously  through  a  somewhat  varied 
dance.  The  ladies  did  well,  because  they  liked  it,  but 
the  gentlemen  exerted  themselves  from  more  selfish 
motives,  for  each  felt  that  he  must  earn  his  supper,  and 
labored  manfully  toward  that  end.  When  every  one 
was  out  of  breath  they  were  allowed  to  rest;  and, 
indeed,  poor  Mrs.  Smith  needed  it,  for  her  long  dress 


144  LITTLE  MEN. 

had  tripped  her  up  many  times.  The  little  maid  passed 
round  molasses  and  water  in  such  small  cups  that  one 
guest  actually  emptied  nine.  I  refrain  from  mention- 
ing his  name,  because  this  mild  beverage  affected  him 
so  much  that  he  put  cup  and  all  into  his  mouth  at  the 
ninth  round,  and  choked  himself  publicly. 

"You  must  ask  Nan  to  play  and  sing  now,"  said 
Daisy  to  her  brother,  who  sat  looking  very  much  like 
an  owl,  as  he  gravely  regarded  the  festive  scene  between 
his  high  collars. 

'•Give  us  a  song,  mum,"  said  the  obedient  guest, 
secretly  wondering  where  the  piano  was. 

Miss  Smith  sailed  up  to  an  old  secretary  which  stood 
in  the  room,  threw  back  the  lid  of  the  writing-desk, 
and  sitting  down  before  it,  accompanied  herself  with  a 
vigor  which  made  the  old  desk  rattle  as  she  sang  that 
new  and  lovely  song,  beginning — 

"  Gaily  the  troubadour 
Touched  his  guitar, 
As  he  was  hastening 
Home  from  the  war." 

The  gentlemen  applauded  so  enthusiastically  that 
she  gave  them  "  Bounding  Billows,"  "  Little  Bo-Peep," 
and  other  gems  of  song,  till  they  were  obliged  to  hint  that 
they  had  had  enough.  Grateful  for  the  praises  bestowed 
upon  her  daughter,  Mrs.  Smith  graciously  announced  — 

"Now  we  will  have  tea.  Sit  down  carefully,  and 
don't  grab." 

It  was  beautiful  to  see  the  air  of  pride  with  which 
the  good  lady  did  the  honors  of  her  table,  and  the 
calmness  with  which  she  bore  the  little  mishaps  that 


DAISY'S  BALL.  145 

occurred.  The  best  pie  flew  wildly  on  to  the  floor 
when  she  tried  to  cut  it  with  a  very  dull  knife ;  the 
bread  and  butter  vanished  with  a  rapidity  calculated 
to  dismay  a  housekeeper's  soul ;  and,  worst  of  all,  the 
custards  were  so  soft  that  they  had  to  be  drunk  up, 
instead  of  being  eaten  elegantly  with  the  new  tin 
spoons. 

I  grieve  to  state  that  Miss  Smith  squabbled  with  the 
maid  for  the  best  jumble,  which  caused  Bess  to  toss 
the  whole  dish  into  the  air,  and  burst  out  crying  amid  a 
rain  of  falling  cakes.  She  was  comforted  by  a  seat  at 
the  table,  and  the  sugar-bowl  to  empty;  but  during 
this  flurry  a  large  plate  of  patties  was  mysteriously  lost, 
and  could  not  be  found.  They  were  the  chief  ornament 
of  the  feast,  and  Mrs.  Smith  was  indignant  at  the  loss, 
for  she  had  made  them  herself,  and  they  were  beautiful 
to  behold.  I  put  it  to  any  lady  if  it  was  not  hard  to 
have  one  dozen  delicious  patties  (made  of  flour,  salt, 
and  water,  with  a  large  raisin  in  the  middle  of  each, 
and  much  sugar  over  the  whole)  swept  away  at  one  fell 
swoop  ? 

"  You  hid  them,  Tommy ;  I  know  you  did ! "  cried 
the  outraged  hostess,  threatening  her  suspected  guest 
with  the  milk-pot. 

"I  didn't!" 

"You  did!" 

"  It  isn't  proper  to  contradict,"  said  N^an,  who  was 
hastily  eating  up  the  jelly  during  the  fray. 

"  Give  them  back,  Demi,"  said  Tommy.  , 

"  That 's  a  fib,  you've  got  them  in  your  own  pocket," 
bawled  Demi,  roused  by  the  false  accusation. 

"  Let 's  take  'em  away  from  him.  It 's  too  bad  to 
10 


*146  LITTLE  MEN. 

make  Daisy  cry,"  suggested  Nat,  who  found  his  first  ball 
more  exciting  than  he  expected. 

Daisy  was  already  weeping,  Bess  like  a  devoted  ser- 
vant mingled  her  tears  with  those  of  her  mistress,  and 
Nan  denounced  the  entire  race  of  boys  as  "plaguey 
things."  Meanwhile  the  battle  raged  among  the  gentle- 
men, for,  when  the  two  defenders  of  innocence  fell 
upon  the  foe,  that  hardened  youth  intrenched  himself 
behind  a  table  and  pelted  them  with  the  stolen  tarts, 
which  were  very  effective  missiles,  being  nearly  as  hard 
as  bullets.  While  his  ammunition  held  out  the  besieged 
prospered,  but  the  moment  the  last  patty  flew  over  the 
parapet,  the  villain  was  seized,  dragged  howling  from 
the  room,  and  cast  upon  the  hall  floor  in  an  ignomini- 
ous heap.  The  conquerors  then  returned  flushed  with 
victory,  and  while  Demi  consoled  poor  Mrs.  Smith,  Nat 
and  Nan  collected  the  scattered  tarts,  replaced  each 
raisin  in  its  proper  bed,  and  rearranged  the  dish  so  that 
it  really  looked  almost  as  well  as  ever.  But  their  glory 
had  departed,  for  the  sugar  was  gone,  and  no  one  cared 
to  eat  them  after  the  insult  offered  to  them. 

"  I  guess  we  had  better  go,"  said  Demi,  suddenly,  as 
Aunt  Jo's  voice  was  heard  on  the  stairs. 

"  P'raps  we  had,"  and  Nat  hastily  dropped  a  stray 
jumble  that  he  had  just  picked  up. 

But  Mrs.  Jo  was  among  them  before  the  retreat  was 
accomplished,  and  into  her  sympathetic  ear  the  young 
ladies  poured  the  story  of  their  woes. 

"  No  more  balls  for  these  boys  till  they  have  atoned 
for  this  bad  behavior  by  doing  something  kind  to  you," 
said  Mrs.  Jo,  shaking  her  head  at  the  three  culprits. 

tt  We  were  only  in  fun,"  began  Demi. 


DAISrS  BALL.  147 

"  I  don't  like  fun  that  makes  other  people  unhappy. 
I  am  disappointed  in  you,  Demi,  for  I  hoped  you  would 
never  learn  to  tease  Daisy.  Such  a  kind  little  sister  as 
she  is  to  you." 

"  Boys  always  tease  their  sisters ;  Tom  says  so,"  mut- 
tered Demi. 

"  I  don't  intend  that  my  boys  shall,  and  I  must  send 
Daisy  home  if  you  cannot  play  happily  together,"  said 
Aunt  Jo,  soberly. 

At  this  awful  threat,  Demi  sidled  up  to  his  sister, 
and  Daisy  hastily  dried  her  tears,  for  to  be  separated 
was  the  worst  misfortune  that  could  happen  to  the 
twins. 

"  Nat  was  bad  too,  and  Tommy  was  baddest  of  all," 
observed  Nan,  fearing  that  two  of  the  sinners  would 
not  get  their  fair  share  of  punishment. 

"  I  am  sorry,"  said  Nat,  much  ashamed. 

"  I  ain't !  "  bawled  Tommy  through  the  keyhole, 
where  he  was  listening,  with  all  his  might. 

Mrs.  Jo  wanted  very  much  to  laugh,  but  kept  her 
countenance,  and  said  impressively,  as  she  pointed  to 
the  door  — 

"  You  can  go,  boys,  but  remember,  you  are  not  to 
speak  to  or  play  with  the  little  girls  till  I  give  you  leave. 
You  don't  deserve  the  pleasure,  so  I  forbid  it." 

The  ill-mannered  young  gentlemen  hastily  retired  to 
be  received  outside  with  derision  and  scorn  by  the  un- 
repentant Bangs,  who  would  not  associate  with  them 
for  at  least  fifteen  minutes.  Daisy  was  soon  consoled 
for  the  failure  of  her  ball,  but  lamented  the  edict  that 
.  parted  her  from  her  brother,  and  mourned  over  his 
short-comings  in  her  tender  little  heart.  Nan  rather 


148  LITTLE  MEN. 

enjoyed  the  trouble,  and  went  about  turning  up  her  pug 
nose  at  the  three,  especially  Tommy,  who  pretended 
not  to  care,  and  loudly  proclaimed  his  satisfaction  at 
being  rid  of  those  "  stupid  girls."  But  in  his  secret 
soul  he  soon  repented  of  the  rash  act  that  caused  this 
banishment  from  the  society  he  loved,  and  every  hour  of 
separation  taught  him  the  value  of  the  "  stupid  girls." 

The  others  gave  in  very  soon,  and  longed  to  be 
friends,  for  now  there  was  no  Daisy  to  pet  and  cook 
for  them;  no  Nan  to  amuse  and  doctor  them;  and, 
worst  of  all,  no  Mrs.  Jo  to  make  home  pleasant  and  life 
easy  for  them.  To  their  great  affliction,  Mrs.  Jo  seemed 
to  consider  herself  one  of  the  offended  girls,  for  she 
hardly  spoke  to  the  outcasts,  looked  as  if  she  did  not 
see  them  when  she  passed,  and  was  always  too  busy 
now  to  attend  to  their  requests.  This  sudden  and 
entire  exile  from  favor  cast  a  gloom  over  their  souls, 
for  when  Mother  Bhaer  deserted  them,  their  sun  had 
set  at  noon-day,  as  it  were,  and  they  had  no  refuge 
left. 

This  unnatural  state  of  things  actually  lasted  for 
three  days,  then  they  could  bear  it  no  longer,  and  fear- 
ing that  the  eclipse  might  become  total,  went  to  Mr. 
Bhaer  for  help  and  counsel. 

It  is  my  private  opinion  that  he  had  received  instruc- 
tions how  to  behave  if  the  case  should  be  laid  before 
him.  But  no  one  suspected  it,  and  he  gave  the  afflicted 
boys  some  advice,  which  they  gratefully  accepted  and 
carried  out  in  the  following  manner :  — 

Secluding  themselves  in  the  garret,  they  devoted 
several  play-hours  to  the  manufacture  of  some  myste- 
rious machine,  which  took  so  much  paste'  that  Asia 


DAISTS  BALL.  149 

grumbled,  and  the  little  girls  wondered  mightily.  Nan 
nearly  got  her  inquisitive  nose  pinched  in  the  door, 
trying  to  see  what  was  going  on,  and  Daisy  sat  about, 
openly  lamenting  that  they  could  not  all  play  nicely 
together,  and  not  have  any  dreadful  secrets.  Wednes- 
day afternoon  was  fine,  and  after  a  good  deal  of  con- 
sultation about  wind  and  weather,  Nat  and  Tommy 
went  off,  bearing  an  immense  flat  parcel  hidden  under 
many  newspapers.  Nan  nearly  died  with  suppressed 
curiosity,  Daisy  nearly  cried  with  vexation,  and  both 
quite  trembled  with  interest  when  Demi  marched  into 
Mrs.  Bhaer's  room,  hat  in  hand,  and  said,  in  the  politest 
tone  possible  to  a  mortal  boy  of  his  years,  — 

"  Please,  Aunt  Jo,  would  you  and  the  girls  come  out 
to  a  surprise  party  we  have  made  for  you  ?  Do,  it 's  a 
very  nice  one." 

"Thank  you,  we  will  come  with  pleasure;  only,  I 
must  take  Teddy  with  me,"  replied  Mrs.  Bhaer,  with 
a  smile  that  cheered  Demi  like  sunshine  after  rain. 

"We'd  like  to  have  him.  The  little  wagon  is  all 
ready  for  the  girls;  and  you  won't  mind  walking  just 
up  to  Pennyroyal  Hill,  will  you,  Aunty  ?  " 

"  I  should  like  it  exceedingly ;  but  are  you  quite  sure 
I  shall  not  be  in  the  way?" 

"  Oh  no,  indeed !  we  want  you  very  much ;  and  the 
party  will  be  spoilt  if  you  don't  come,"  cried  Demi,  with- 
great  earnestness. 

"  Thank  you  kindly,  sir ; "  and  Aunt  Jo  made  him  a 
grand  curtsey,  for  she  liked  frolics  as  well  as  any  of  them. 

"  Now,  young  ladies,  we  must  not  keep  them  waiting ; 
on  with  the  hats,  and  let  us  be  off  at  once.  I  'm  all 
impatience  to  know  what  the  surprise  is." 


150  LITTLE  MEN. 

As  Mrs.  Bhaer  spoke  every  one  bustled  about,  and 
in  five  minutes  the  three  little  girls  and  Teddy  were 
packed  into  the  "clothes-basket,"  as  they  called  the 
wicker  wagon  which  Toby  drew.  Demi  walked  at  the 
head  of  the  procession,  and  Mrs.  Jo  brought  up  the  rear, 
escorted  by  Kit.  It  was  a  most  imposing  party,  I  assure 
you,  for  Toby  had  a  red  feather-duster  in  his  head,  two 
remarkable  flags  waved  over  the  carriage,  Kit  had  a 
blue  bow  on  his  neck,  which  nearly  drove  him  wild, 
Demi  wore  a  nosegay  of  dandelions  in  his  buttonhole, 
and  Mrs.  Jo  earned  the  queer  Japanese  umbrella  in 
honor  of  the.  occasion. 

The'girls  had  little  flutters  of  excitement  all  the  way ; 
and  Teddy  was  so  charmed  with  the  drive  that  he  kept 
dropping  his  hat  overboard,  and  when  it  was  taken  from 
him  he  prepared  to  tumble  out  himself,  evidently  feel- 
ing that  it  behooved  him  to  do  something  for  the  amuse- 
ment of  the  party. 

When  they  came  to  the  hill  "  nothing  was  to  be  seen 
but  the  grass  blowing  in  the  wind,"  as  the  fairy  books 
say,  and  the  children  looked  disappointed.  But  Demi 
said,  in  his  most  impressive  manner,  — 

"  Now,  you  all  get  out  and  stand  still,  and  the  sur- 
prise party  will  come  in ; "  with  which  remark  he  re- 
tired behind  a  rock,  over  which  heads  had  been  bobbing 
at  intervals  for  the  last  half-hour. 

A  short  pause  of  intense  suspense,  and  then  Nat, 
Demi,  and  Tommy  marched  forth,  each  bearing  a  new 
kite,  which  they  presented  to  the  three  young  ladies. 
Shrieks  of  delight  arose,  but  were  silenced  by  the  boys, 
who  said,  with  faces  brimful  of  merriment,  "  That  isn't 
all  the  surprise ; "  and,  running  behind  the  rock  again, 


DAISrS  BALL.  151 

emerged  bearing  a  fourth  kite  of  superb  size,  on  which 
was  printed,  in  bright  yellow  letters,  "  For  Mother 
Bhaer." 

"  We  thought  you  'd  like  one  too,  because  you  were 
angry  with  us,  and  took  the  girls'  part,"  cried  all  three, 
shaking  with  laughter, -for  this  part  of  the  affair  evi- 
dently was  a  surprise  to  Mrs.  Jo. 

She  clapped  her  hands,  and  joined  in  the  laugh, 
looking  thoroughly  tickled  at  the  joke. 

"Now  boys,  that  is  regularly  splendid!  Who  did 
think  of  it?"  she  asked,  receiving  the  monster  kite 
with  as  much  pleasure  as  the  little  girls  did  theirs. 

"  Uncle  Fritz  proposed  it  when  we  planned  to  make 
the  others ;  he  said  you  'd  like  it,  so  we  made  a  boun- 
cer," answered  Demi,  beaming  with  satisfaction  at  the 
success  of  the  plot. 

"Uncle  Fritz  knows  what  I  like.  Yes,  these  are 
magnificent  kites,  and  we  we're  wishing  we  had  some 
the  other  day  when  you  were  flying  yours,  weren't  we, 
girls?" 

"  That 's  why  we  made  them  for  you,"  cried  Tommy, 
standing  on  his  head  as  the  most  appropriate  way  of 
expressing  his  emotions. 

"  Let  us  fly  them,"  said  energetic  Nan. 

"  I  don't  know  how,"  began  Daisy. 

"  We  '11  show  you,  we  want  to ! "  cried  all  the  boys 
in  a  burst  of  devotion,  as  Demi  took  Daisy's,  Tommy 
Nan's,  and  Nat,  with  difficulty,  persuaded  Bess  to  let 
go  her  little  blue  one. 

"  Aunty,  if  you  will  wait  a  minute,  we  '11  pitch  yours 
for  you,"  said  Demi,  feeling  that  Mrs.  Bhaer's  favor 
must  not  be  lost  again  by  any  neglect  of  theirs. 


152  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Bless  your  buttons,  dear,  I  know  all  about  it ;  and 
here  is  a  boy  who  will  toss  up  for  me,"  added  Mrs.  Jo,  as 
the  professor  peeped  over  the  rock  with  a  face  full  of  fun. 

He  came  out  at  once,  tossed  up  the  big  kite,  and  Mrs. 
Jo  ran  off  with  it  in  fine  style,  while  the  children  stood 
and  enjoyed  the  spectacle.  One  by  one  all  the  kites 
went  up,  and  floated  far  overhead  like  gay  birds,  balanc- 
ing themselves  on  the  fresh  breeze  that  blew  steadily 
over  the  hill.  Such  a  merry  time  as  they  had !  running 
and  shouting,  sending  up  the  kites  or  pulling  them 
down,  watching  their  antics  in  the  air,  and  feeling  them 
tug  at  the  string  like  live  creatures  trying  to  escape. 
Nan  was  quite  wild  with  the  fun,  Daisy  thought  the 
new  play  nearly  as  interesting  as  dolls,  and  little  Bess 
was  so  fond  of  her  "  boo  tite,"  that  she  would  only  let 
it  go  on  very  short  flights,  preferring  to  hold  it  in  her 
lap  and  look  at  the  remarkable  pictures  painted  on  it 
by  Tommy's  dashing  brush.  Mrs.  Jo  enjoyed  hers 
immensely,  and  it  acted  as  if  it  knew  who  owned  it, 
for  it  came  tumbling  down  head  first  when  least  ex- 
pected, caught  on  trees,  nearly  pitched  into  the  river, 
and  finally  darted  away  to  such  a  height  that  it  looked 
a  mere  speck  among  the  clouds. 

By  and  by  every  one  got  tired,  and  fastening  the 
kite  strings  to  trees  and  fences,  all  sat  down  to  rest, 
except  Mr.  Bhaer,  who  went  off  to  look  at  the  cows, 
with  Teddy  on  his  shoulder. 

"  Did  you  ever  have  such  a  good  tune  as  this  before  ?  " 
asked  Nat,  as  they  lay  about  on  the  grass,  nibbling 
pennyroyal  like  a  flock  of  sheep. 

"  Not  since  I  last  flew  a  kite,  years  ago,  when  I  was  a 
girl,"  answered  Mrs.  Jo. 


DAISFS  BALL.  153 

"  I  'd  like  to  have  known  you  when  you  were  a  girl, 
you  must  have  been  so  jolly,"  said  Nat. 

"  I  was  a  naughty  little  girl,  I  am  sorry  to  say." 

"  I  like  naughty  little  girls,"  observed  Tommy,  look- 
ing at  Nan,  who  made  a  frightful  grimace  at  him  in 
return  for  the  compliment. 

•'  Why  don't  I  remember  you  then,  Aunty  ?  Was  I 
too  young  ?  "  asked  Demi. 

"  Rather,  dear." 

"  I  suppose  my  memory  hadn't  come  then.  Grandpa 
says  that  different  parts  of  the  mind  unfold  as  we  grow 
up,  and  the  memory  part  of  my  mind  hadn't  unfolded 
when  you  were  little,  so  I  can't  remember  how  you 
looked,"  explained  Demi. 

"  Now,  little  Socrates,  you  had  better  keep  that  ques- 
tion for  grandpa,  it  is  beyond  me,"  said  Aunt  Jo,  put- 
ting on  the  extinguisher. 

"  Well,  I  will,  he  knows  about  those  things,  and  you 
don't,"  returned  Demi,  feeling  that  on  the  whole  kites 
were  better  adapted  to  the  comprehension  of  the  pres- 
ent company. 

"  Tell  about  the  last  time  you  flew  a  kite,"  said  Nat, 
for  Mrs.  Jo  had  laughed  as  she  spoke  of  it,  and  he 
thought  it  might  be  interesting. 

"  Oh,  it  was  only  rather  funny,  for  I  was  a  great  girl 
of  fifteen,  and  was  ashamed  to  be  seen  at  such  a  play. 
So  Uncle  Teddy  and  I  privately  made  our  kites,  and  stole 
away  to  fly  them.  We  had  a  capital  time,  and  were 
resting  as  we  are  now,  when  suddenly  we  heard  voices, 
and  saw  a  party  of  young  ladies  and  gentlemen  coming 
back  from  a  pic-nic.  Teddy  did  not  mind,  though  he 
was  rather  a  large  boy  to  be  playing  with  a  kite,  but  I 


154  LITTLE  MEN. 

was  in  a  great  flurry,  for  I  knew  I  should  be  sadly 
laughed  at,  and  never  hear  the  last  of  it,  because  my 
wild  ways  amused  the  neighbors  as  much  as  Nan's 
do  us. 

S^What  shall  I  do?'  I  whispered  to  Teddy,  as  the 
voices  drew  nearer  and  nearer. 

" '  I  '11  show  you,'  he  said,  and  whipping  out  his 
knife  he  cut  the  strings.  Away  flew  the  kites,  and  when 
the  people  came  up  we  were  picking  flowers  as  properly 
as  you  please.  They  never  suspected  us,  and  we  had  a 
grand  laugh  over  our  narrow  escape." 

"  Were  the  kites  lost,  Aunty  ?  "  asked  Daisy. 

"  Quite  lost,  but  I  did  not  care,  for  I  made  up  my 
mind  that  it  would  be  best  to  wait  till  I  was  an  old 
lady  before  I  played  with  kites  again ;  and  you  see  I 
have  waited,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  beginning  to  pull  in  the  big 
kite,  for  it  was  getting  late. 

"  Must  we  go  now  ?  " 

"I  must,  or  you  won't  have  any  supper;  and  that 
sort  of  surprise  party  would  not  suit  you,  I  think,  my 
chickens.'* 

"  Hasn't  our  party  been  a  nice  one  ?  "  asked  Tommy, 
complacently. 

"  Splendid ! "  answered  every  one. 

"  Do  you  know  why  ?  It  is  because  your  guests  have 
behaved  themselves,  and  tried  to  make  every  thing  go 
well.  You  understand  what  I  mean,  don't  you  ?  " 

"Yes'm,"  was  all  the  boys  said,  but  they  stole  a 
shamefaced  look  at  one  another,  as  they  meekly  shoul- 
dered their  kites  and  walked  home,  thinking  of  another 
party  where  the  guests  had  not  behaved  themselves, 
and  things  had  gone  badly  on  account  of  it. 


CHAPTER     X. 
HOME  AGAIN. 

JULY  had  come,  and  haying  begun ;  the  little  gar- 
dens were  doing  finely,  and  the  long  summer  days 
were  full  of  pleasant  hours.  The  house  stood  open 
from  morning  till  night,  and  the  lads  lived  out  of  doors, 
except  at  school  time.  The  lessons  were  short,  and 
there  were  many  holidays,  for  the  Bhaers  believed  in 
cultivating  healthy  bodies  by  much  exercise,  and  our 
short  summers  are  best  used  in  out-of-door  work.  Such 
a  rosy,  sunburnt,  hearty  set  as  the  boys  became ;  such 
appetites  as  they  had ;  such  sturdy  arms  and  legs,  as 
outgrew  jackets  and  trousers;  such  laughing  and  racing 
all  over  the  place ;  such  antics  in  house  and  barn ;  such 
adventures  in  the  tramps  over  hill  and  dale ;  and  such 
satisfaction  in  the  hearts  of  the  worthy  Bhaers,  as  they 
saw  their  flock  prospering  in  mind  and  body,  I  cannot 
begin  to  describe.  Only  one  thing  was  needed  to  make 
them  quite  happy,  and  it  came  when  they  least  ex- 
pected it. 

One  balmy  night  when  the  little  lads  were  in  bed,  the 
elder  ones  bathing  down  at  the  brook,  and  Mrs.  Bhaer 
undressing  Teddy  in  her  parlor,  he  suddenly  cried 
out,  "  Oh,  my  Danny!"  and  pointed  to  the  window, 
where  the  moon  shone  brightly. 


156  LITTLE  MEN. 

"No,  lovey,  he  is  not  there,  it  was  the  pretty  moon," 
said  his  mother. 

"  No,  no,  Danny  at  a  window ;  Teddy  saw  him,"  per- 
sisted baby,  much  excited. 

,"  It  might  have  been,"  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  hurried  to  the 
window,  hoping  it  would  prove  true.  But  the  face 
was  gone,  and  nowhere  appeared  any  signs  of  a  mortal 
boy ;  she  called  his  name,  ran  to  the  front  door  with 
Teddy  in  his  little  shirt,  and  made  him  call  too,  think- 
ing the  baby  voice  might  have  more  effect  than  her 
own.  No  one  answered,  nothing  appeared,  and  they 
went  back  much  disappointed.  Teddy  would  not  be 
satisfied  with  the  moon,  and  after  he  was  in  his  crib 
kept  popping  up  his  head  to  ask  if  Danny  was  not 
**  tummin'  soon." 

By  and  by  he  fell  asleep,  the  lads  trooped  up  to  bed, 
the  house  grew  still,  and  nothing  but  the  chirp  of  the 
crickets  broke  the  soft  silence  of  the  summer  night. 
Mre.  Bhaer  sat  sewing,  for  the  big  basket  was  always 
piled  with  socks,  full  of  portentous  holes,  and  thinking 
of  the  lost  boy.  She  had  decided  that  baby  had  been 
mistaken,  and  did  not  even  disturb  Mr.  Bhaer  by  telling 
him  of  the  child's  fancy,  for  the  poor  man  got  little  time 
to  himself  till  the  boys  were  abed,  and  he  was  busy 
writing  letters.  It  was  past  ten  when  she  rose  to  shut 
up  the  house.  As  she  paused  a  minute  to  enjoy  the 
lovely  scene  from  the  steps,  something  white  caught  her 
eye  on  one  of  the  hay-cocks  scattered  over  the  lawn. 
The  children  had  been  playing  there  all  the  afternoon, 
and,  fancying  that  Nan  had  left  her  hat  as  usual,  Mrs. 
Bhaer  went  out  to  get  it.  But  as  she  approached,  she 
saw  that  it  was  neither  hat  nor  handkerchief,  but  a 


HOME  AGAIN.  157 

shirt  sleeve  with  a  brown  hand  sticking  out  of  it.  She 
hurried  round  the  hay-cock,  and  there  lay  Dan,  fast 
asleep. 

Ragged,  dirty,  thin,  and  worn-out  he  looked ;  one 
foot  was  bare,  the  other  tied  up  in  the  old  gingham 
jacket  which  he  had  taken  from  his  own  back  to  use  as 
a  clumsy  bandage  for  some  hurt.  He  seemed  to  have 
hidden  himself  behind  the  hay-cock,  but  in  his  sleep 
had  thrown  out  the  arm  that  had  betrayed  him.  He 
sighed  and  muttered  as  if  his  dreams  disturbed  him,  and 
once  when  he  moved,  he  groaned  as  if  in  pain,  but  still 
slept  on  quite  spent  with  weariness. 

"  He  must  not  lie  here,"  said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  and  stoop- 
ing over  him  she  gently  called  his  name.  He  opened 
his  eyes  and  looked  at  her,  as  if  she  was  a  part  of  his 
dream,  for  he  smiled  and  said  drowsily,  "  Mother  Bhaer, 
I've  come  home." 

The  look,  the  words  touched  her  very  much,  and  she 
put  her  hand  under  his  head  to  lift  him  up,  saying  in 
her  cordial  way  — 

"  I  thought  you  would,  and  I  'm  so  glad  to  see  you, 
Dan."  He  seemed  to  wake  thoroughly  then,  and  started 
up  looking  about  him  as  if  he  suddenly  remembered 
where  he  was,  and  doubted  even  that  kind  welcome. 
His  face  changed,  and  he  said  in  his  old  rough  way  — 

"  I  was  going  off  in  the  morning.  I  only  stopped  to 
peek  in,, as  I  went  by." 

"  But  why  not  come  in,  Dan  ?  Didn't  you  hear  us 
call  you?  Teddy  saw,  and  cried  for  you." 

"Didn't  suppose  you'd  let  me  in,"  he  said,  fumbling 
with  a  little  bundle  which  he  had  taken  up  as  if  going 
immediately. 


.  158  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Try  and  see,"  was  all  Mrs.  Bhaer  answered,  holding 
out  her  hand  and  pointing  to  the  door,  where  the  light 
shone  hospitably. 

With  a  long  breath,  as  if  a  load  was  off  his  mind, 
Dan  took  up  a  stout  stick,  and  began  to  limp  towards 
the  house,  but  stopped  suddenly,  to  say  inquiringly  — 

"  Mr.  Bhaer  won't  like  it.     I  ran  away  from  Page." 

"  He  knows  it,  and  was  sorry,  but  it  will  make  no 
difference.  Are  you  lame?  "  asked  Mrs.  Jo,  as  he  limped 
on  again. 

"Getting  over  a  wall  a  stone  fell  on  my  foot  and 
smashed  it.  I  don't  mind,"  and  he  did  his  best  to  hide 
the  pain  each  step  cost  him. 

Mrs.  Bhaer  helped  him  into  her  own  room,  and,  once 
there,  he  dropped  into  a  chair,  and  laid  his  head  back, 
white  and  faint  with  weariness  and  suffering. 

"  My  poor  Dan !  drink  this,  and  then  eat  a  little ;  you 
are  at  home  now,  and  Mother  Bhaer  will  take  good  care 
of  you." 

He  only  looked  up  at  her  with  eyes  full  of  gratitude, 
as  he  drank  the  wine  sh«  held  to  his  lips,  and  then  be- 
gan slowly  to  eat  the  food  she  brought  him.  Each 
mouthful  seemed  to  put  heart  into  him,  and  presently 
he  began  to  talk  as  if  anxious  to  have  her  know  all 
about  him. 

"  Where  have  you  been,  Dan  ?  "  she  asked,  beginning 
to  get  out  some  bandages. 

"  I  ran  off  more  'n  a  month  ago.  Page  was  good 
enough,  but  too  strict.  I  didn't  like  it,  so  I  cut  away 
down  the  river  with  a  man  who  was  going  in  his  boat. 
That's  why  they  couldn't  tell  where  I  'd  gone.  When 
I  left  the  man,  I  worked  for  a  couple  of  weeks  with  a 


HOME  AGAIN.  159 

farmer,  but  I  thrashed  his  boy,  and  then  the  old  man 
thrashed  me,  and  I  ran  off  again  and  walked  here." 

"All  the  way?" 

"  Yes,  the  man  didn't  pay  me,  and  I  wouldn't  ask  for 
it.  Took  it  out  in  beating  the  boy,"  and  Dan  laughed, 
yet  looked  ashamed,  as  he  glanced  at  his  ragged  clothes 
and  dirty  hands. 

"  How  did  you  live  ?  It  was  a  long,  long  tramp  for  a 
boy  like  you." 

"  Oh,  I  got  on  well  enough,  till  I  hurt  my  foot.  Folks 
gave  me  things  to  eat,  and  I  slept  in  barns  and  tramped 
by  day.  I  got  lost  trying  to  make  a  short  cut,  or  I  'd 
have  been  here  sooner." 

"  But  if  you  did  not  mean  to  come  in  and  stay  with 
us,  what  were  you  going  to  do  ?  " 

"  I  thought  I  'd  like  to  see  Teddy  again,  and  you ; 
and  then  I  was  going  back  to  my  old  work  in  the  city, 
only  I  was  so  tired  I  went  to  sleep  on  the  hay.  I  'd 
have  been  gone  in  the  morning,  if  you  hadn't  found 
me." 

"Are  you  sorry  I  did?"  and  Mrs.  Jo  looked  at  him 
with  a  half  merry,  half  reproachful  look,  as  she  knelt 
down  to  look  at  his  wounded  foot. 

The  color  came  up  into  Dan's  face,  and  he  kept  his 
eyes  fixed  on  his  plate,  as  he  said  very  low,  "  No,  ma'am, 
I  'm  glad,  I  wanted  to  stay,  but  I  was  afraid  you  " — 

He  did  not  finish,  for  Mrs.  Bhaer  interrupted  him  by 
an  exclamation  of  pity,  as  she  saw  his  foot,  for  it  was 
seriously  hurt. 

"When  did  you  doit?" 

a  Three  days  ago." 

"  And  you  have  walked  on  it  in  this  state  ?  n 


160  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  I  had  a  stick,  and  I  washed  it  at  every  brook  I  came 
to,  and  one  woman  gave  me  a  rag  to  put  on  it." 

"  Mr.  Bhaer  must  see  and  dress  it  at  once,"  and  Mrs. 
Jo  hastened  into  the  next  room,  leaving  the  door  ajar 
behind  her,  so  that  Dan  heard  all  that  passed. 

"  Fritz,  that  boy  has  come  back." 

"Who?  Dan?" 

"  Yes,  Teddy  saw  him  at  the  window,  and  we  called 
to  him,  but  he  went  away  and  hid  behind  the  hay-cocks 
on  the  lawn.  I  found  him  there  just  now  fast  asleep, 
and  half  dead  with  weariness  and  pain.  He  ran  away 
from  Page  a  month  ago,  and  has  been  making  his  way 
to  us  ever  since.  He  pretends  that  he  did  not  mean  to 
let  us  see  him,  but  go  on  to  the  city,  and  his  old  work, 
after  a  look  at  us.  It  is  evident,  however,  that  the  hope 
of  being  taken  in  has  led  him  here  through  every  thing, 
and  there  he  is  waiting  to  know  if  you  will  forgive  and 
take  him  back." 

« Did  he  say  so?" 

"  His  eyes  did,  and  when  I  waked  him,  he  said,  like 
a  lost  child, '  Mother  Bhaer,  I  've  come  home.'  I  hadn't 
the  heart  to  scold  him,  and  just  took  him  in  like  a  poor 
little  black  sheep  come  back  to  the  fold.  I  may  keep 
him,  Fritz  ?  " 

"  Of  course  you  may !  This  proves  to  me  that  we 
have  a  hold  on  the  boy's  heart,  and  I  would  no  more 
send  him  away  now  than  I  would  my  own  Rob." 

Dan  heard  a  soft  little  sound,  as  if  Mrs.  Jo  thanked 
her  husband  without  words,  and,  in  the  instant's  silence 
that  followed,  two  great  tears  that  had  slowly  gathered 
in  the  boy's  eyes  brimmed  over  and  rolled  down  his 
dusty  cheeks.  No  one  saw  them,  for  he  brushed  them 


HOME  AGAIN.  161 

hastily  away ;  but  in  that  little  pause  I  think  Dan's  old 
distrust  for  these  good  people  vanished  for  ever,  the 
soft  spot  in  his  heart  was  touched,  and  he  felt  an 
impetuous  desire  to  prove  himself  worthy  of  the  love 
and  pity  that  was  so  patient  and  forgiving.  He  said 
nothing,  he  only  wished  the  wish  with  all  his  might, 
resolved  to  try  in  his  blind  boyish  way,  and  sealed  his 
resolution  with  the  tears  which  neither  pain,  fatigue, 
nor  loneliness  could  wring  from  him. 

"Come  and  see  his  foot.  I  am  afraid  it  is  badly 
hurt,  for  he  has  kept  on  three  days  through  heat  and 
dust,  with  nothing  but  water  and  an  old  jacket  to  bind 
it  up  with.  I  tell  you,  Fritz,  that  boy  is  a  brave  lad, 
and  will  make  a  fine  man  yet." 

"  I  hope  so,  for  your  sake,  enthusiastic  woman,  your 
faith  deserves  success.  Now,  I  will  go  and  see  your 
little  Spartan.  Where  is  he  ?  " 

"  In  my  room ;  but,  dear,  you  '11  be  very  kind  to  him, 
no  matter  how  gruff  he  seems.  I  am  sure  that  is  the 
way  to  conquer  him.  He  won't  bear  sternness  nor 
much  restraint,  but  a  soft  word  and  infinite  patience 
will  lead  him  as  it  used  to  lead  me." 

"  As  if  you  ever  were  like  this  little  rascal ! "  cried 
Mr.  Bhaer,  laughing,  yet  half  angry  at  the  idea. 

"  I  was  in  spirit,  though  I  showed  it  in  a  different 
way.  I  seem  to  know  by  instinct  how  he  feels,  tor 
understand  what  will  win  and  touch  him,  and  to  sym- 
pathize with  his  temptations  and  faults.  I  am  glad  I 
do,  for  it  will  help  me  to  help  him ;  and  if  I  can  make 
a  good  man  of  this  wild  boy,  it  will  be  the  best  work 
of  my  life." 

"  God  bless  the  work,  and  help  the  worker ! " 
11 


162  LITTLE  MEN. 

Mr.  Bhaer  spoke  now  as  earnestly  as  she  had  clone, 
and  both  came  in  together  to  find  Dan's  head  down 
upon  his  arm,  as  if  he  was  quite  overcome  by  sleep. 
But  he  looked  up  quickly,  and  tried  to  rise  as  Mr. 
Bhaer  said  pleasantly  — 

"So  you  like  Plumfield  better  than  Page's  farm. 
Well,  let  us  see  if  we  can  get  on  more  comfortably  this 
time  than  we  did  before." 

"  Thanky,  sir,"  said  Dan,  trying  not  to  be  gruff,  and 
finding  it  easier  than  he  expected. 

"  Now,  the  foot !  Ach !  —  this  is  not  well.  We  must 
have  Dr.  Firth  to-morrow.  Warm  water,  Jo,  and  old 
Unen." 

Mr.  Bhaer  bathed  and  bound  up  the  wounded  foot, 
while  Mrs.  Jo  prepared  the  only  empty  bed  in  the 
house.  It  was  in  the  little  guest-chamber  leading  from 
the  parlor,  and  often  used  when  the  lads  were  poorly, 
for  it  saved  Mrs.  Jo  from  running  up  and  down,  and 
the  invalids  could  see  what  was  going  on.  When  it 
was  ready,  Mr.  Bhaer  took  the  boy  in  his  arms,  and 
carried  him  in,  helped  him  undress,  laid  him  on  the 
little  white  bed,  and  left  him  with  another  hand-shake, 
and  a  fatherly  "  Good-night,  my  son." 

Dan  dropped  asleep  at  once,  and  slept  heavily  for 
several  hours ;  then  his  foot  began  to  throb  and  ache, 
and  he  awoke  to  toss  about  uneasily,  trying  not  to 
groan  lest  any  one  should  hear  him,  for  he  was  a  brave 
lad,  and  did  bear  pain  like  "  a  little  Spartan,"  as  Mr. 
Bhaer  called  him. 

Mrs.  Jo  had  a  way  of  flitting  about  the  house  at 
night,  to  shut  the  windows  if  the  wind  grew  chilly,  to 
draw  mosquito  curtains  over  Teddy,  or  look  after 


HOME  AGAIN.  163 

Tommy,  who  occasionally  walked  in  his  sleep.  The 
least  noise  waked  her,  and  as  she  often  heard  imaginary 
robbers,  cats,  and  conflagrations,  the  doors  stood  open 
all  about,  so  her  quick  ear  caught  the  sound  of  Dan's 
little  moans,  and  she  was  up  in  a  minute.  He  was 
just  giving  his.  hot  pillow  a  despairing  thump  when  a 
light  came  glimmering  through  the  hall,  and  Mrs.  Jo 
crept  in,  looking  like  a  droll  ghost,  with  her  hair  in  a 
great  knob  on  the  top  of  her  head,  and  a  long  gray 
dressing-gown  trailing  behind  her. 

"  Are  you  in  pain,  Dan  ?  " 

"  It 's  pretty  bad ;  but  I  didn't  mean  to  wake  you." 

"  I  'm  a  sort  of  owl,  always  flying  about  at  night. 
Yes,  your  foot  is  like  fire ;  the  bandages  must  be  wet 
again,"  and  away  flapped  the  maternal  owl  for  more 
cooling  stuff,  and  a  great  mug  of  ice  water. 

"Oh,  that's  so  nice!"  sighed  Dan,  as  the  wet  band- 
ages went  on  again,  and  a  long  draught  of  water 
cooled  his  thirsty  throat. 

"There,  now,  sleep  your  best,  and  don't  be  fright- 
ened if  you  see  me  again,  for  I  '11  slip  down  by  and  by, 
and  give  you  another  sprinkle." 

As  she  spoke,  Mrs.  Jo  stooped  to  turn  the  pillow 
and  smooth  the  bed-clothes,  when,  to  her  great  surprise, 
Dan  put  his  arm  round  her  neck,  drew  her  face  down 
to  his,  and  kissed  her,  with  a  broken  "Thank  you, 
ma'am,"  which  said  more  than  the  most  eloquent  speech 
could  have  done ;  for  the  hasty  kiss,  the  muttered  words, 
meant,  "  I  'm  sorry,  I  will  try."  She  understood  it,  ac- 
cepted the  unspoken  confession,  and  did  not  spoil  it  by 
any  token  of  surprise.  She  only  remembered  that  he 
had  no  mother,  kissed  the  brown  cheek  half  hidden  on 


164  LITTLE  MEN. 

the  pillow,  as  if  ashamed  of  that  little  touch  of  tender- 
ness, and  left  him,  saying,  what  he  long  remembered, 
"  You  are  my  boy  now,  and  if  you  choose  you  can  make 
me  proud  and  glad  to  say  so." 

Once  again,  just  at  dawn,  she  stole  down  to  find  him 
so  fast  asleep  that  he  did  not  wake,  and  showed  no  sign 
of  consciousness  as  she  wet  his  foot,  except  that  the 
lines  of  pain  smoothed  themselves  away,  and  left  his 
face  quite  peaceful. 

The  day  was  Sunday,  and  the  house  so  still  that  he 
never  waked  till  near  noon,  and,  looking  round  him, 
saw  an  eager  little  face  peering  in  at  the  door.  He 
held  out  his  arms,  and  Teddy  tore  across  the  room  to 
cast  himself  bodily  upon  the  bed,  shouting,  "  My  Dan- 
ny 's  turn ! "  as  he  hugged  and  wriggled  with  delight. 
Mrs.  Bhaer  appeared  next,  bringing  breakfast,  and  nev- 
er seeming  to  see  how  shamefaced  Dan  looked  at  the 
memory  of  the  little  scene  last  night.  Teddy  insisted 
on  giving  him  his  "  betfus,"  and  fed  him  like  a  baby, 
which,  as  he  was  not  very  hungry,  Dan  enjoyed  very 
much. 

Then  came  the  doctor,  and  the  poor  Spartan  had  a 
bad  time  of  it,  for  some  of  the  little  bones  of  his  foot 
were  injured,  and  putting  them  to  rights  was  such  a 
painful  job,  that  Dan's  lips  were  white,  and  great  drops 
stood  on  his  forehead,  though  he  never  cried  out,  and 
only  held  Mrs.  Jo's  hand  so  tight  that  it  was  red  long 
afterwards. 

"  You  must  keep  this  boy  quiet,  for  a  week  at  least, 
and  not  let  him  put  his  foot  to  the  ground.  By  that 
time,  I  shall  know  whether  he  may  hop  a  little  with  a 
crutch,  or  stick  to  his  bed  for  a  while  longer,"  said  Dr. 


HOME  AGAIN.  165 

Firth,  putting  up  the  shining  instruments  that  Dan  did 
not  like  to  see. 

"It  will  get  well  sometime,  won't  it?"  he  asked, 
looking  alarmed  at  the  word  "  crutches." 

"I  hope  so;"  and  with  that  the  doctor  departed, 
leaving  Dan  much  depressed ;  for  the  loss  of  a  foot  is  a 
dreadful  calamity  to  an  active  boy. 

"  Don't  be  troubled,  I  am  a  famous  nurse,  and  we  will 
have  you  tramping  about  as  well  as  ever  in  a  month," 
said  Mrs.  Jo,  taking  a  hopeful  view  of  the  case. 

But  the  fear  of  being  lame  haunted  Dan,  and  even 
Teddy's  caresses  did  not  cheer  him ;  so  Mrs.  Jo  pro- 
posed that  one  or  two  of  the  boys  should  come  in  and 
pay  him  a  little  visit,  and  asked  whom  he  would  like 
to  see. 

"  Nat  and  Demi ;  I  'd  like  my  hat  too,  there 's  some- 
thing in  it  I  guess  they  'd  like  to  see.  I  suppose  you 
threw  away  my  bundle  of  plunder  ?  "  said  Dan,  looking 
rather  anxious  as  he  put  the  question. 

"  No,  I  kept  it,  for  I  thought  they  must  be  treasures 
of  some  kind,  you  took  such  care  of  them ; "  and  Mrs. 
Jo  brought  him  his  old  straw  hat  stuck  full  of  butter- 
flies and  beetles,  and  a  handkerchief  containing  a  col- 
lection of  odd  things  picked  up  on  his  way :  birds'  eggs, 
carefully  done  up  in  moss,  curious  shells  and  stones, 
bits  of  fungus,  and  several  little  crabs,  in  a  state  of 
great  indignation  at  their  imprisonment. 

"  Could  I  have  something  to  put  these  fellers  in  ? 
Mr.  Hyde  and  I  found  'em,  and  they  are  first-rate  ones, 
so  I  'd  like  to  keep  and  watch  'em ;  can  I  ?  "  asked  Dan, 
forgetting  his  foot,  and  laughing  to  see  the  crabs  go 
sidling  and  backing  over  the  bed. 


166  LITTLE  MEN. 

u  Of  course  you  can ;  Polly's  old  cage  will  be  just  the 
thing.  Don't  let  them  nip  Teddy's  toes  while  I  get  it ; " 
and  away  went  Mrs.  Jo,  leaving  Dan  overjoyed  to  find 
that  his  treasures  were  not  considered  rubbish,  and 
thrown  away. 

Nat,  Demi,  and  the  cage  arrived  together,  and  the 
crabs  were  settled  in  their  new  house,  to  the  great  de- 
light of  the  boys,  who,  in  the  excitement  of  the  per- 
formance, forgot  any  awkwardness  they  might  otherwise 
have  felt  in  greeting  the  runaway.  To  these  admiring 
listeners  Dan  related  his  adventures  much  more  fully 
than  he  had  done  to  the  Bhaers.  Then  he  displayed 
his  "  plunder,"  and  described  each  article  so  well,  that 
Mrs.  Jo,  who  had  retired  to  the  next  room  to  leave  them 
free,  was  surprised  and  interested,  as  well  as  amused,  at 
their  boyish  chatter. 

"  How  much  the  lad  knows  of  these  things !  how  ab- 
sorbed he  is  in  them !  and  what  a  mercy  it  is  just  now, 
for  he  cares  so  little  for  books,  it  would  be  hard  to  amuse 
him  while  he  is  laid  up  ;  but  the  boys  can  supply  him 
with  beetles  and  stones  to  any  extent,  and  I  am  glad  to 
find  out  this  taste  of  his ;  it  is  a  good  one,  and  may  per- 
haps prove  the  making  of  him.  If  he  should  turn  out  a 
great  naturalist,  and  Nat  a  musician,  I  should  have  cause 
to  be  proud  of  this  year's  work ; "  and  Mrs.  Jo  sat  smiling 
over  her  book  as  she  built  castles  in  the  air,  just  as  she 
used  to  do  when  a  girl,  only  then  they  were  for  herself 
and  now  they  were  for  other  people,  which  is  the  reason 
perhaps  that  some  of  them  came  to  pass  in  reality  — 
for  charity  is  an  excellent  foundation  to  build  any  thing 
upon. 

Nat  was  most  interested  in  the  adventures,  but  Demi 


HOME  AGAIN.  167 

enjoyed  the  beetles  and  butterflies  immensely,  drinking 
in  the  history  of  their  changeful  little  lives  as  if  it  were 
a  new  and  lovely  sort  of  fairy  tale  —  for,  even  in  his 
plain  way,  Dan  told  it  well,  and  found  great  satisfaction 
in  the  thought  that  here  at  least  the  small  philosopher 
could  learn  of  him.  So  interested  were  they  in  the  ac- 
count of  catching  a  musk  rat,  whose  skin  was  among 
the  treasures,  that  Mr.  Bhaer  had  to  come  himself  to 
tell  Nat  and  Demi  it  was  time  for  the  walk.  Dan 
looked  so  wistfully  after  them  as  they  ran  off,  that 
Father  Bhaer  proposed  carrying  him  to  the  sofa  in  the 
parlor  for  a  little  change  of  air  and  scene. 

When  he  was  established,  and  the  house  quiet,  Mrs. 
Jo,  who  sat  near  by  showing  Teddy  pictures,  said,  in 
an  interested  tone,  as  she  nodded  towards  the  treasures 
still  in  Dan's  hands  — 

"  Where  did  you  learn  so  much  about  these  things  ?  " 

"  I  always  liked  'em,  but  didn't  know  much  till  Mr. 
Hyde  told  me." 

"  Who  was  Mr.  Hyde  ?  " 

"  Oh,  he  was  a  man  who  lived  round  in  the  woods 
studying  these  things  —  I  don't  know  what  you  call 
him  —  and  wrote  about  frogs,  and  fishes,  and  so  on. 
He  stayed  at  Page's,  and  used  to  want  me  to  go  and 
help  him,  and  it  was  great  fun,  'cause  he  told  me  ever 
so  much,  and  was  uncommon  jolly  and  wise.  Hope 
I'll  see  him  again  sometime." 

"  I  hope  you  will,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  for  Dan's  face  had 
brightened  up,  and  he  was  so  interested  in  the  matter 
that  he  forgot  his  usual  taciturnity. 

"  Why,  he  could  make  birds  come  to  him,  and  rabbits 
and  squirrels  didn't  mind  him  any  more  than  if  he  was 


168  LITTLE  MEN. 

a  tree.  He  never  hurt  'em,  and  they  seemed  to  know 
him.  Did  you  ever  tickle  a  lizard  with  a  straw?" 
asked  Dan,  eagerly. 

"No,  but  I  should  like  to  try  it." 

"  Well,  I  've  done  it,  and  it 's  so  funny  to  see  'em  turn 
over  and  stretch  out,  they  like  it  so  much.  Mr.  Hyde 
used  to  do  it;  and  he'd  make  snakes  listen  to  him 
while  he  whistled,  and  he  knew  just  when  certain 
flowers  would  blow,  and  bees  wouldn't  sting  him,  and 
he  'd  tell  the  wonderfullest  things  about  fish  and  flies, 
and  the  Indians  and  the  rocks." 

"  I  think  you  were  so  fond  of  going  with  Mr.  Hyde, 
you  rather  neglected  Mr.  Page,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  slyly. 

"  Yes,  I  did ;  I  hated  to  have  to  weed  and  hoe  when 
I  might  be  tramping  round  with  Mr.  Hyde.  Page 
thought  such  things  silly,  and  called  Mr.  Hyde  crazy 
because  he  'd  lay  hours  watching  a  trout  or  a  bird." 

"  Suppose  you  say  lie  instead  of  lay,  it  is  better  gram- 
mar," said  Mrs.  Jo,  very  gently ;  and  then  added,  "  Yes, 
Page  is  a  thorough  farmer,  and  would  not  understand 
that  a  naturalist's  work  was  just  as  interesting,  and  per- 
haps just  as  important  as  his  own.  Now,  Dan,  if  you 
really  love  these  things,  as  I  think  you  do,  and  I  am 
glad  to  see  it,  you  shall  have  time  to  study  them  and 
books  to  help  you ;  but  I  want  you  to  do  something 
besides,  and  to  do  it  faithfully,  else  you  will  be  sorry 
by  and  by,  and  find  that  you  have  got  to  begin 
again." 

"  Yes,  ma'am,"  said  Dan,  meekly,  and  looked  a  little 
scared  by  the  serious  tone  of  the  last  remarks,  for  he 
hated  books,  yet  had  evidently  made  up  his  mind  to 
study  any  thing  she  proposed. 


HOME  AGAIN.  169 

"Do  you  see  that  cabinet  with  twelve  drawers  in 
it  ?  "  was  the  next  very  unexpected  question. 

Dan  did  see  two  tall  old-fashioned  ones  standing  on 
either  side  of  the  piano ;  he  knew  them  well,  and  had 
often  seen  nice  bits  of  string,  nails,  brown  paper,  and 
such  useful  matters  come  out  of  the  various  drawers. 
Pie  nodded  and  smiled.  Mrs.  Jo  went  on  — 

"  Well,  don't  you  think  those  drawers  would  be  good 
places  to  put  your  eggs,  and  stones,  and  shells,  and 
lichens  ?  " 

"Oh,  splendid  but  you  wouldn't  like  my  things 
'clutterin'  round,'  as  Mr.  Page  used  to  say,  would 
you  ?  "  cried  Dan,  sitting  up  to  survey  the  old  piece  of 
furniture  with  sparkling  eyes. 

"I  like  litter  of  that  sort;  and  if  I  didn't,  I  should 
give  you  the  drawers,  because  I  have  a  regard  for  chil- 
dren's little  treasures,  and  think  they  should  be  treated 
respectfully.  Now,  I  am  going  to  make  a  bargain  with 
you,  Dan,  and  I  hope  you  will  keep  it  honorably.  Here 
are  twelve  good-sized  drawers,  one  for  each  month  of 
the  year,  and  they  shall  be  yours  as  fast  as  you  earn 
them,  by  doing  the  little  duties  that  belong  to  you.  I 
believe  in  rewards  of  a  certain  kind,  especially  for 
young  folks ;  they  help  us  along,  and  though  we  may 
begin  by  being  good  for  the  sake  of  the  reward,  if  it  is 
rightly  used,  we  shall  soon  learn  to  love  goodness  for 
itself." 

"  Do  you  have  'em  ?  "  asked  Dan,  looking  as  if  this 
was  new  talk  for  him. 

"Yes,  indeed!  I  haven't  learnt  to  get  on  without 
them  yet.  My  rewards  are  not  drawers,  or  presents,  or 
holidays,  but  they  are  things  which  I  like  as  much  as 


170  LITTLE  MEN. 

you  do  the  others.  The  good  behavior  and  success  of 
my  boys  is  one  of  the  rewards  I  love  best,  and  I  work 
for  it  as  I  want  you  to  work  for  your  cabinet.  Do 
what  you  dislike,  and  do  it  well,  and  you  get  two  re- 
wards —  one,  the  prize  you  see  and  hold ;  the  other,  the 
satisfaction  of  a  duty  cheerfully  performed.  Do  you 
understand  that?" 

"  Yes,  ma'am." 

"  We  all  need  these  little  helps ;  so  you  shall  try  to 
do  your  lessons  and  your  work,  play  kindly  with  all  the 
boys,  and  use  your  holidays  well ;  and  if  you  bring  me 
a  good  report,  or  if  I  see  and  know  it  without  words — 
for  I  'm  quick  to  spy  out  the  good  little  efforts  of  my 
boys  —  you  shall  have  a  compartment  in  the  drawer  for 
your  treasures.  See,  some  are  already  divided  into 
four  parts,  and  I  will  have  the  others  made  in  the  same 
way,  a  place  for  each  week ;  and  when  the  drawer  is 
filled  with  curious  and  pretty  things,  I  shall  be  as  proud 
of  it  as  you  are ;  prouder,  I  think  —  for  in  the  pebbles, 
mosses,  and  gay  butterflies,  I  shall  see  good  resolutions 
carried  out,  conquered  faults,  and  a  promise  well  kept. 
Shall  we  do  this,  Dan?" 

The  boy  answered  with  one  of  the  looks  which  said 
touch,  for  it  showed  that  he  felt  and  understood  her 
wish  and  words,  although  he  did  not  know  how  to 
express  his  interest  and  gratitude  for  such  care  and 
kindness.  She  understood  the  look,  and.  seeing  by  the 
color  that  flushed  up  to.  his  forehead  that  he  was 
touched,  as  she  wished  him  to  be,  she  said  no  more 
about  that  side  of  the  new  plan,  but  pulled  out  the 
upper  drawer,  dusted  it,  and  set  it  on  two  chairs  before 
the  sofa,  saying  briskly  — 


HOME  AGAIN.  171 

"Now,  let  us  begin  at  once  by  putting  those  nice 
beetles  in  a  safe  place.  These  compartments  will  hold 
a  good  deal,  you  see.  I  'd  pin  the  butterflies  and  bugs 
round  the  sides ;  they  will  be  quite  safe  there,  and 
leave  room  for  the  heavy  things  below.  I  '11  give  you 
some  cotton  wool,  and  clean  paper  and  pins,  and  you 
can  get  ready  for  the  week's  work." 

"But  I  can't  go  out  to  find  any  new  things,"  said 
Dan,  looking  piteously  at  his  foot. 

"  That 's  true ;  never  mind,  we  '11  let  these  treasures 
do  for  this  week,  and  I  dare  say  the  boys  will  bring  you 
loads  of  things  if  you  ask  them." 

"  They  don't  know  the  right  sort ;  besides,  if  I  lay, 
no,  lie  here  all  the  tune,  I  can't  work  and  study,  and 
earn  my  drawers." 

"There  are  plenty  of  lessons  you  can  learn  lying 
there,  and  several  little  jobs  of  work  you  can  do  for 
me." 

"Can  I?"  and  Dan  looked  both  surprised  and 
pleased. 

"  You  can  learn  to  be  patient  and  cheerful  in  spite 
of  pain  and  no  play.  You  can  amuse  Teddy  for  me, 
wind  cotton,  read  to  me  when  I  sew,  and  do  many 
things  without  hurting  your  foot,  which  will  make  the 
days  pass  quickly,  and  not  be  wasted  ones." 

Here  Demi  ran  in  with  a  great  butterfly  in  one  hand, 
and  a  very  ugly  little  toad  in  the  other. 

"  See,  Dan,  I  found  them,  and  ran  back  to  give  them 
to  you ;  aren't  they  beautiful  ones  ?  "  panted  Demi,  all 
out  of  breath. 

Dan  laughed  at  the  toad,  and  said  he  had  no  place  to 
put  him,  but  the  butterfly  was  a  beauty,  and  if  Mrs.  Jo 


172  LITTLE  MEN. 

would  give  him  a  big  pin,  he  would  stick  it  right  up  in 
the  drawer. 

"  I  don't  like  to  see  the  poor  thing  struggle  on  a  pin ; 
if  it  must  be  killed,  let  us  put  it  out  of  pain  at  once 
with  a  drop  of  camphor,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  getting  out  the 
bottle. 

"  I  know  how  to  do  it  —  Mr.  Hyde  always  killed  'em 
that  way  —  but  I  didn't  have  any  camphor,  so  I  use  a 
pin,"  and  Dan  gently  poured  a  drop  on  the  insect's  head, 
when  the  pale  green  wings  fluttered  an  instant,  and 
then  grew  still. 

This  dainty  little  execution  was  hardly  over  when 
Teddy  shouted  from  the  bedroom,  "  Oh,  the  little  trabs 
are  out,  and  the  big  one  's  eaten  'em  all  up."  Demi  and 
his  aunt  ran  to  the  rescue,  and  found  Teddy  dancing 
excitedly  in  a  chair,  while  two  little  crabs  were  scuttling 
about  the  floor,  having  got  through  the  wires  of  the 
cage.  A  third  was  clinging  to  the  top  of  the  cage, 
evidently  in  terror  of  Ms  life,  for  below  appeared  a  sad 
yet  funny  sight.  The  big  crab  had  wedged  himself 
into  the  little  recess  where  Polly's  cup  used  to  stand, 
and  there  he  sat  eating  one  of  his  relations  in  the 
coolest  way.  All  the  claws  of  the  poor  victim  were 
pulled  off^  and  he  was  turned  upside  down,  his  upper 
shell  held  in  one  claw  close  under  the  mouth  of  the  big 
crab  like  a  dish,  while  he  leisurely  ate  out  of  it  with 
the  other  claw,  pausing  now  and  then  to  turn  his  queer 
bulging  eyes  from  side  to  side,  and  to  put  out  a  slender 
tongue  and  lick  them  in  a  way  that  made  the  children 
scream  with  laughter.  Mrs.  Jo  carried  the  cage  in  for 
Dan  to  see  the  sight,  while  Demi  caught  and  confined 
the  wanderers  under  an  inverted  wash-bowL 


HOME  AGAIN.  173 

"  I  '11  have  to  let  these  fellers  go,  for  I  can't  keep  'em 
in  the  house,"  said  Dan,  with  evident  regret. 

"  I  '11  take  care  of  them  for  you,  if  you  will  tell  me 
how,  and  they  can  live  in  my  turtle-tank  just  as  well  as 
not,"  said  Demi,  who  found  them  more  interesting  even 
than  his  beloved  slow  turtles.  So  Dan  gave  him  direc- 
tions about  the  wants  and  habits  of  the  crabs,  and 
Demi  bore  them  away  to  introduce  them  to  their  new 
home  and  neighbors.  "  What  a  good  boy  he  is ! " 
said  Dan,  carefully  settling  the  first  butterfly,  and  re- 
membering that  Demi  had  given  up  his  walk  to  bring 
it  to  him. 

"  He  ought  to  be,  for  a  great  deal  has  been  done  to 
make  him  so." 

"  Pie 's  had  folks  to  tell  him  things,  and  to  help  him ; 
I  haven't,"  said  Dan,  with  a  sigh,  thinking  of  his  neg- 
lected childhood,  a  thing  he  seldom  did,  and  feeling  as 
if  he  had  not  had  fair  play  somehow. 

"  I  know  it,  dear,  and  for  that  reason  I  don't  expect 
as  much  from  you  as  from  Demi,  though  he  is  younger ; 
you  shall  have  all  the  help  that  we  can  give  you  now, 
and  I  hope  to  teach  you  how  to  help  yourself  in  the 
best  way.  Have  you  forgotten  what  Father  Bhaer  told 
you  when  you  were  here  before,  about  wanting  to  be 
good,  and  asking  God  to  help  you  ?  " 

"  No,  ma'am,"  very  low. 

"Do  you  try  that  way  still?" 

"  No,  ma'am,"  lower  still. 

"  Will  you  do  it  every  night  to  please  me  ?  " 

"  Yes,  ma'am,"  very  soberly. 

"  I  shall  depend  on  it,  and  I  think  I  shall  know  if 
you  are  faithful  to  your  promise,  for  these  things  always 


174  LITTLE  MEN. 

show  to  people  who  believe  in  them,  though  not  a  word 
is  said.  Now  here  is  a  pleasant  story  about  a  boy  who 
hurt  his  foot  worse  than  you  did  yours;  read  it,  and 
see  how  bravely  he  bore  his  trouble." 

She  put  that  charming  little  book,  "The  Crofton 
Boys,"  into  his  hands,  and  left  him  for  an  hour,  passing 
in  and  out  from  time  to  time  that  he  might  not  feel 
lonely.  Dan  did  not  love  to  read,  but  soon  got  so  in- 
terested that  he  was  surprised  when  the  boys  came 
home.  Daisy  brought  him  a  nosegay  of  wild  flowers, 
and  Nan  insisted  on  helping  bring  him  his  supper,  as 
he  lay  on  the  sofa  with  the  door  open  into  the  dining- 
room,  so  that  he  could  see  the  lads  at  table,  and  they 
could  nod  sociably  to  him  over  then*  bread  and  butter. 

Mr.  Bhaer  carried  him  away  to  his  bed  early,  and 
Teddy  came  in  his  night-gown  to  say  good-night,  for 
he  went  to  his  little  nest  with  the  birds. 

"  I  want  to  say  my  prayers  to  Danny ;  may  I  ? "  he 
asked;  and  when  his  mother  said  "Yes,"  the  little 
fellow  knelt  down  by  Dan's  bed,  and  folding  his  chubby 
hands,  said  softly  — 

"Pease  Dod  bess  everybody,  and  hep  me  to  be 
dood." 

Then  he  went  away  smiling  with  sleepy  sweetness 
over  his  mother's  shoulder. 

But  after  the  evening  talk  was  done,  the  evening 
song  sung,  and  the  house  grew  still  with  beautiful 
Sunday  silence,  Dan  lay  in  his  pleasant  room  wide 
awake,  thinking*  new  thoughts,  feeling  new  hopes  and 
desires  stirring  in  his  boyish  heart,  for  two  good  angels 
had  entered  in:  love  and  gratitude  began  the  work 
which  time  and  effort  were  to  finish;  and  with  an 


HOME  AGAIN.  175 

earnest  wish  to  keep  Ms  first  promise,  Dan  folded  his 
hands  together  in  the  darkness,  and  softly  whispered 
Teddy's  little  prayer  — 

"Please  God  bless  every  one,  and  help  me  to  be 
good." 


CHAPTER    XI. 
UNCLE  TEDDY. 

I  X)R  a  week  Dan  only  moved  from  bed  to  sofa;  a 
J-  long  week  and  a  hard  one,  for  the  hurt  foot  was 
very  painful  at  times,  the  quiet  days  very  wearisome  to 
the  active  lad,  longing  to  be  out  enjoying  the  summer 
weather,  and  especially  difficult  was  it  to  be  patient. 
But  Dan  did  his  best,  and  every  one  helped  him  in  their 
various  ways ;  so  the  time  passed,  and  he  was  rewarded 
at  last  by  hearing  the  doctor  say,  on  Saturday  morning — 

"This  foot  is  doing  better  than  I  expected.  Give 
the  lad  the  crutch  this  afternoon,  and  let  him  stump 
about  the  house  a  little." 

"  Hooray ! "  shouted  Nat,  and  raced  away  to  tell  the 
other  boys  the  good  news. 

Everybody  was  very  glad,  and  after  dinner  the  whole 
flock  assembled  to  behold  Dan  crutch  himself  up  and 
down  the  hall  a  few  times  before  he  settled  in  the  porch 
to  hold  a  sort  of  levee.  He  was  much  pleased  at  the 
interest  and  good-will  shown  him,  and  brightened  up 
more  and  more  every  minute ;  for  the  boys  came  to  pay 
their  respects,  the  little  girls  fussed  about  him  with 
stools  and  cushions,  and  Teddy  watched  over  him  as  if 
he  was  a  frail  creature  unable  to  do  any  thing  for  him- 


UNCLE   TEDDY.  177 

self.  They  were  still  sitting  and  standing  about  the 
steps,  when  a  carriage  stopped  at  the  gate,  a  hat  was 
waved  from  it,  and  with  a  shout  of  "  Uncle  Teddy ! 
Uncle  Teddy ! "  Rob  scampered  down  the  avenue  as 
fast  as  his  short  legs  would  carry  him.  All  the  boys 
but  Dan  ran  after  him  to  see  who  should  be  first  to  open 
the  gate,  and  in  a  moment  the  carriage  drove  up  with 
boys  swarming  all  over  it,  while  Uncle  Teddy  sat 
laughing  in  the  midst,  with  his  little  daughter  on  his 
knee. 

"  Stop  the  triumphal  car  and  let  Jupiter  descend,"  he 
said,  and  jumping  out  ran  up  the  steps  to  meet  Mrs. 
Bhaer,  who  stood  smiling  and  clapping  her  hands  like  a 
girl. 

"How  goes  it,  Teddy?" 

"All  right,  Jo." 

Then  they  shook  hands,  and  Mr.  Laurie  put  Bess  into 
her  aunt's  arms,  saying,  as  the  child  hugged  her  tight, 
"  Goldilocks  wanted  to  see  you  so  much  that  I  ran  away 
with  her,  for  I  was  quite  pining  for  a  sight  of  you  my- 
self. We  want  to  play  with  your  boys  for  an  hour  or 
so,  and  to  see  how  '  the  old  woman  who  lived  in  a  shoe, 
and  had  so  many  children  she  did  not  know  what  to 
do,'  is  getting  on." 

"  I  'm  so  glad !  Play  away,  and  don't  get  into  mis- 
chief," answered  Mrs.  Jo,  as  the  lads  crowded  round 
the  pretty  child,  admiring  her  long  golden  hah*,  dainty 
dress,  and  lofty  ways,  for  the  little  "  Princess,"  as  they 
called  her,  allowed  no  one  to  kiss  her,  but  sat  smiling  down 
upon  them,  and  graciously  patting  their  heads  with  her 
little,  white  hands.  They  all  adored  her,  especially  Rob, 
who  considered  her  a  sort  of  doll,  and  dared  not  touch 
12 


178  LITTLE  MEN. 

her  lest  she  should  break,  but  worshipped  her  at  a  re- 
spectful distance,  made  happy  by  an  occasional  mark  of 
favor  from  her  little  highness.  As  she  immediately 
demanded  to  see  Daisy's  kitchen,  she  was  borne  off  by 
Mrs.  Jo,  with  a  train  of  small  boys  following.  The 
others,  all  but  Nat  and  Demi,  ran  away  to  the  menagerie 
and  gardens  to  have  all  in  order;  for  Mr.  Laurie  always 
took  a  general  survey,  and  looked  disappointed  if  things 
were  not  flourishing. 

Standing  on  the  steps,  he  turned  to  Dan,  saying  like 
an  old  acquaintance,  though  he  had  only  seen  him  once 
or  twice  before  — 

"How  is  the  foot?"  . 

"  Better,  sir." 

"  Rather  tired  of  the  house  aren't  you  ?  " 

"  Guess  I  am  !  "  and  Dan's  eyes  roved  away  to  the 
green  hills  and  woods  where  he  longed  to  be. 

"  Suppose  we  take  a  little  turn  before  the  others  come 
back  ?  That  big,  easy  carriage  will  be  quite  safe  and 
comfortable,  and  a  breath  of  fresh  air  will  do  you  good. 
Get  a  cushion  and  a  shawl,  Demi,  and  let 's  carry  Dan 
off." 

The  boys  thought  it  a  capital  joke,  and  Dan  looked 
delighted,  but  asked,  with  an  unexpected  burst  of 
virtue — 

"  Will  Mrs.  Bhaer  like  it  ?  " 

"  Oh,  yes ;  we  settled  all  that  a  minute  ago." 

"  You  didn't  say  any  thing  about  it,  so  I  don't  see  how 
you  could,"  said  Demi,  inquisitively. 

"  We  have  a  way  of  sending  messages  to  one  another, 
without  any  words.  It  is  a  great  improvement  on  the 
telegraph." 


UNCLE  TEDDY.  179 

"  I  know  —  it 's  eyes  ;  I  saw  you  lift  your  eyebrows, 
and  nod  toward  the  carriage,  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  laughed 
and  nodded  back  again,"  cried  Nat,  who  was  quite  at 
his  ease  with  kind  Mr.  Laurie  by  this  time. 

"  Right.  Now  then,  come  on,"  and  in  a  minute  Dan 
found  himself  settled  in  the  carriage,  his  foot  on  a  cush- 
ion on  the  seat  opposite,  nicely  bovered  with  a  shawl, 
which  fell  down  from  the  upper  regions  in  a  most  mys- 
terious manner,  just  when  they  wanted  it.  Demi 
climbed  up  to  the  box  beside  Peter,  the  black  coach- 
man. Nat  sat  next  Dan  in  the  place  of  honor,  while 
Uncle  Teddy  would  sit  opposite,  —  to  take  care  of  the 
foot  he  said,  but  really  that  he  might  study  the  faces 
before  him  —  both  so  happy,  yet  so  different,  for  Dan's 
was  square,  and  brown,  and  strong,  while  Nat's  was 
long,  and  fair,  and  rather  weak,  but  very  amiable  with 
its  mild  eyes  and  good  forehead. 

"  By  the  way,  I  Ve  got  a  book  somewhere  here  that 
you  may  like  to  see,"  said  the  oldest  boy  of  the  party, 
diving  under  the  seat  and  producing  a  book  which 
made  Dan  exclaim  — 

"  Oh !  by  George,  isn't  that  a  stunner  ?  "  as  he  turned 
the  leaves,  and  saw  fine  plates  of  butterflies,  and  birds, 
and  every  sort  of  interesting  insect,  colored  like  life. 
He  was  so  charmed  that  he  forgot  his  thanks,  but  Mr. 
Laurie  did  not  mind,  and  was  quite  satisfied  to  see  the 
boy's  eager  delight,  and  to  hear  his  exclamations  over 
certain  old  friends  as  he  came  to  them.  Nat  leaned  on 
his  shoulder  to  look,  and  Demi  turned  his  back  to  the 
horses,  and  let  his  feet  dangle  inside  the  carriage,  so 
that  he  might  join  in  the  conversation. 

When  they  got  among  the  beetles,  Mr.  Laurie  took 


180  LITTLE  MEN. 

a  curious  little  object  out  of  his  vest-pocket,  and  laying 
it  in  the  palm  of  his  hand,  said  — 

"  There's  a  beetle  that  is  thousands  of  years  old ; " 
and  then,  while  the  lads  examined  the  queer  stone-bug, 
that  looked  so  old  and  gray,  he  told  them  how  it  came 
out  of  the  wrappings  of  a  mummy,  after  lying  for  ages 
in  a  famous  tomb.  Finding  them  interested,  he  went 
on  to  tell  about  the  Egyptians,  and  the  strange  and 
splendid  ruins  they  have  left  behind  them  —  the  Nile, 
and  how  he  sailed  up  the  mighty  river,  with  the  hand- 
some dark  men  to  work  his  boat ;  how  he  shot  alliga- 
tors, saw  wonderful  beasts  and  birds ;  and  afterwards 
crossed  the  desert  on  a  camel,  who  pitched  him  about 
like  a  ship  in  a  storm. 

"  Uncle  Teddy  tells  stories  'most  as  well  as  Grandpa," 
said  Demi,  approvingly,  when  the  tale  was  done,  and 
the  boys'  eyes  asked  for  more. 

"  Thank  you,"  said  Mr.  Laurie,  quite  soberly,  for  he 
considered  Demi's  praise  worth  having,  for  children  are 
good  critics  in  such  cases,  and  to  suit  them  is  an  accom- 
plishment that  any  one  may  be  proud  of. 

"  Here 's  another  trifle  or  two  that  I  tucked  into  my 
pocket  as  I  was  turning  over  my  traps  to  see  if  I  had 
any  thing  that  would  amuse  Dan,"  and  Uncle  Teddy 
produced  a  fine  arrow-head  and  a  string  of  wampum. 

"  Oh !  tell  about  the  Indians,"  cried  Demi,  who  was 
fond  of  playing  wigwam. 

"  Dan  knows  lots  about  them,"  added  Nat. 

"  More  than  I  do,  I  dare  say.  Tell  us  something," 
and  Mr.  Laurie  looked  as  interested  as  the  other  two. 

"  Mr.  Hyde  told  me  ;  he 's  been  among  'em,  and  can 
talk  their  talk,  and  likes  'em,"  began  Dan,  flattered  by 


UNCLE  TEDDY.  181 

their  attention,  but  rather  embarrassed  by  having  a 
grown-up  listener. 

"  What  is  wampum  for?"  asked  curious  Demi,  from 
his  perch. 

The  others  asked  questions  likewise,  and,  before  he 
knew  it,  Dan  was  reeling  off  all  Mr.  Hyde  had  told  him, 
as  they  sailed  down  the  river  a  few  weeks  before.  Mr. 
Laurie  listened  well,  but  found  the  boy  more  interesting 
than  the  Indians,  for  Mrs.  Jo  had  told  him  about  Dan, 
and  he  rather  took  a  fancy  to  the  wild  lad,  who  ran 
away  as  he  himself  had  often  longed  to  do,  and  who 
was  slowly  getting  tamed  by  pain  and  patience. 

"  I  've  been  thinking  that  it  would  be  a  good  plan  for 
you  fellows  to  have  a  museum  of  your  own ;  a  place  in 
which  to  collect  all  the  curious  and  interesting  things 
that  you  find,  and  make,  and  have  given  you.  Mrs.  Jo 
is  too  kind  to  complain,  but  it  is  rather  hard  for  her  to 
have  the  house  littered  up  with  all  sorts  of  rattletraps, — 
half-a-pint  of  dor-bugs  in  one  of  her  best  vases,  for  in- 
stance, a  couple  of  dead  bats  nailed  up  in  the  back- 
entry,  wasps'  nests  tumbling  down  on  people's  heads, 
and  stones  lying  round  everywhere,  enough  to  pave  the 
avenue.  There  are  not  many  women  who  would  stand 
that  sort  of  thing,  are  there,  now  ?  " 

As  Mr.  Laurie  spoke  with  a  merry  look  in  his  eyes, 
the  boys  laughed  and  nudged  one  another,  for  it  was 
evident  that  some  one  told  tales  out  of  school,  else  how 
could  he  know  of  the  existence  of  these  inconvenient 
treasures. 

"  Where  can  we  put  them,  then  ?  "  said  Demi,  cross- 
ing his  legs  and  leaning  down  to  argue  the  question. 

"  In  the  old  carriage-house." 


182  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  But  it  leaks,  and  there  isn't  any  window,  nor  any 
place  to  put  things,  and  it's  all  dust  and  cobwebs," 
began  Nat. 

"  Wait  till  Gibbs  and  I  have  touched  it  up  a  bit,  and 
then  see  how  you  like  it.  He  is  to  come  over  on  Mon- 
day to  get  it  ready ;  then  next  Saturday  I  shall  come 
out,  and  we  will  fix  it  up,  and  make  the  beginning,  at 
least,  of  a  fine  little  museum.  Every  one  can  bring  his 
things  and  have  a  place  for  them ;  and  Dan  is  to  be  the 
head  man,  because  he  knows  most  about  such  matters, 
and  it  will  be  quiet,  pleasant  work  for  him  now  that  he 
can't  knock  about  much." 

«  Won't  that  be  jolly  ?  "  cried  Nat,  while  Dan  smiled 
all  over  his  face  and  had  not  a  word  to  say,  but  hugged 
his  book,  and  looked  at  Mr.  Laurie  as  if  he  thought 
him  one  of  the  greatest  public  benefactors  that  ever 
blessed  the  world. 

"  Shall  I  go  round  again,  sir  ?  "  asked  Peter,  as  they 
came  to  the  gate,  after  two  slow  turns  about  the  half- 
mile  triangle. 

"  No,  we  must  be  prudent,  else  we  can't  come  again. 
I  must  go  over  the  premises,  take  a  look  at  the  carriage- 
house,  and  have  a  little  talk  with  Mrs.  Jo  before  I  go ; " 
and,  having  deposited  Dan  on  his  sofa  to  rest  and  enjoy 
his  book,  Uncle  Teddy  went  off  to  have  a  frolic  with 
the  lads  who  were  raging  about  the  place  in  search  of 
him.  Leaving  the  little  girls  to  mess  up-stairs,  Mrs. 
Bhaer  sat  down  by  Dan,  and  listened  to  his  eager 
account  of  the  drive  till  the  flock  returned,  dusty, 
warm,  and  much  excited  about  the  new  museum,  which 
every  one  considered  the  most  brilliant  idea  of  the  age. 

"I  always  wanted  to  endow  some  sort  of  an  institu- 


UNCLE  TEDDY.  183 

tion,  and  I  am  going  to  begin  with  this,"  said  Mr. 
Laurie,  sitting  down  on  a  stool  at  Mrs.  Jo's  feet. 

"  You  have  endowed  one  already.  What  do  you 
call  this  ?  "  and  Mrs.  Jo  pointed  to  the  happy-faced  lads, 
who  had  camped  upon  the  floor  about  them. 

"  I  call  it  a  very  promising  Bhaer-garden,  and  I  'm 
proud  to  be  a  member  of  it.  Did  you  know  I  was 
the  head  boy  in  this  school?"  he  asked,  turning  to 
Dan,  and  changing  the  subject  skilfully,  for  he  hated 
to  be  thanked  for  the  generous  things  he  did. 

"  I  thought  Franz  was ! "  answered  Dan,  wondering 
what  the  man  meant. 

"  Oh,  dear  no !  I  'm  the  first  boy  Mrs.  Jo  ever  had  to 
take  care  of,  and  I  was  such  a  bad  one  that  she  isn't 
done  with  me  yet,  though  she  has  been  working  at  me 
for  years  and  years." 

"  How  old  she  must  be ! "  said  Nat,  innocently. 

"  She  began  early,  you  see.  Poor  thing !  she  was 
only  fifteen  when  she  .took  me,  and  I  led  her  such  a 
life,  it 's  a  wonder  she  isn't  wrinkled  and  gray,  and  quite 
worn  out,"  and  Mr  Laurie  looked  up  at  her  laughing. 

"  Don  t,  Teddy ;  I  won't  have  you  abuse  yourself 
so ; "  and  Mrs.  Jo  stroked  the  curly  black  head  at  her 
knee  as  affectionately  as  ever,  for,  in  spite  of  every 
thing,  Teddy  was  her  boy  still. 

"  If  it  hadn't  been  for  you,  there  never  would  have 
been  a  Plumfield.  It  was  my  success  with  you,  sir,  that 
gave  me  courage  to  try  my  pet  plan.  So  the  boys  may 
thank  you  for  it,  and  name  the  new  institution  '  The 
Laurence  Museum,'  in  honor  of  its  founder,  —  won't  we, 
boys  ? "  she  added,  looking  very  like  the  lively  Jo  of 
old  times. 


184  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  We  -will !  we  will ! "  shouted  the  boys,  throwing  up 
their  hats,  for  though  they  had  taken  them  off  on  enter- 
ing the  house,  according  to  rule,  they  had  been  in  too 
much  of  a  hurry  to  hang  them  up. 

"  I'  m  as  hungry  as  a  bear,  can't  I  have  a  cookie  ? " 
asked  Mr.  Laurie,  when  the  shout  subsided  and  he  had 
expressed  his  thanks  by  a  splendid  bow. 

"Trot  out  and  ask  Asia  for  the  gingerbread-box, 
Demi.  It  isn't  in  order  to  eat  between  meals,  but,  on 
this  joyful  occasion,  we  won't  mind,  and  have  a  cookie 
all  round,"  said  Mrs.  Jo ;  and  when  the  box  came  she 
dealt  them  out  with  a  liberal  hand,  every  one  munching 
away  in  a  social  circle.  . 

Suddenly,  in  the  midst  of  a  bite,  Mr.  Laurie  cried  out, 
"Bless  my  heart,  I  forgot  grandma's  bundle!"  and 
running  out  to  the  carriage,  returned  with  an  interest- 
ing white  parcel,  which,  being  opened,  disclosed  a 
choice  collection  of  beasts,  birds,  and  pretty  things  cut 
out  of  crisp  sugary  cake,  and  baked  a  lovely  brown. 

"  There 's  one  for  each,  and  a  letter  to  tell  which  is 
whose.  Grandma  and  Hannah  made  them,  and  I 
tremble  to  think  what  would  have  happened  to  me  if 
I  had  forgotten  to  leave  them." 

Then,  amid  much  laughing  and  fun,  the  cakes  were 
distributed.  A  fish  for  Dan,  a  fiddle  for  Nat,  a  book  for 
Demi,  a  monkey  for  Tommy,  a  flower  for  Daisy,  a  hoop 
for  Nan,  who  had  driven  twice  round  the  triangle  with- 
out stopping,  a  star  for  Emil,  who  put  on  airs  because 
he  studied  astronomy,  and,  best  of  all,  an  omnibus  for 
Franz,  whose  great  delight  was  to  drive  the  family  bus. 
Stuffy  got  a  fat  pig,  and  the  little  folks  had  birds,  and 
cats,  and  rabbits,  with  black  currant  eyes. 


UNCLE   TEDDY.  185 

"  Now  I  must  go.  Where  is  my  Goldilocks  ?  Mam- 
ma will  come  flying  out  to  get  her  if  I'  m  not  back 
early,"  said  Uncle  Teddy,  when  the  last  crumb  had 
vanished,  which  it  speedily  did,  you  may  be  sure. 

The  young  ladies  had  gone  into  the  garden,  and 
while  they  waited  till  Franz  looked  them  up,  Jo 
and  Laurie  stood  at  the  door  talking  together. 

"  How  does  little  Giddy-gaddy  come  on  ?  "  he  asked, 
for  Nan's  pranks  amused  him  very  much,  and  he  was 
never  tired  of  teasing  Jo  about  her. 

"  Nicely ;  she  is  getting  quite  mannerly,  and  begins 
to  see  the  error  of  her  wild  ways." 

"  Don't  the  boys  encourage  her  in  them  ?  " 

"Yes;  but  I  keep  talking,  and  lately  she  has  im- 
proved much.  You  saw  how  prettily  she  shook  hands 
with  you,  and  how  gentle  she  was  with  Bess.  Daisy's 
example  has  its  effect  upon  her,  and  I'm  quite  sure 
that  a  few  months  will  work  wonders." 

Here  Mrs.  Jo's  remarks  were  cut  short  by  the  appear- 
ance of  Nan  tearing  round  the  corner  at  a  break-neck 
pace,  driving  a  mettlesome  team  of  four  boys,  and  fol- 
lowed by  Daisy  trundling  Bess  in  a  wheelbarrow.  Hats 
off,  hair  flying,  whip  cracking,  and  barrow  bumping,  up 
they  came  in  a  cloud  of  dust,  looking  as  wild  a  set  of 
little  hoydens  as  one  would  wish  to  see. 

"  So  these  are  the  model  children,  are  they?  It's 
lucky  I  didn't  bring  Mrs.  Curtis  out  to  see  your  school 
for  the  cultivation  of  morals  and  manners ;  she  would 
never  have  recovered  from  the  shock  of  this  spectacle," 
said  Mr.  Laurie,  laughing  at  Mrs.  Jo's  premature  rejoic- 
ing over  Nan's  improvement. 

"Laugh  away;   I'll  succeed  yet.     As  you  used  to 


186  LITTLE  MEN. 

say  at  College,  quoting  some  professor,  'Though  the 
experiment  has  failed,  the  principle  remains  the  same,7 " 
said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  joining  in  the  merriment. 

"I'm  afraid  Nan's  example  is  taking  effect  upon 
Daisy,  instead  of  the  other  way.  Look  at  my  little 
princess !  she  has  utterly  forgotten  her  dignity,  and  is 
screaming  like  the  rest.  Young  ladies,  what  does  this 
mean  ? "  and  Mr.  Laurie  rescued  his  small  daughter 
from  impending  destruction,  for  the  four  horses  were 
champing  their  bits  and  curvetting  madly  all  about  her, 
as  she  sat  brandishing  a  great  whip  in  both  hands. 

"  We  're  having  a  race,  and  I  beat,"  shouted  Nan. 

"  I  could  have  run  faster,  only  I  was  afraid  of  spilling 
Bess,"  screamed  Daisy. 

"Hi!  go  long!"  cried  the  princess,  giving  such  a 
flourish  with  her  whip  that  the  horses  ran  away,  and 
were  seen  no  more. 

"My  precious  child!  come  away  from  this  ill-man- 
nered crew  before  you  are  quite  spoilt.  Good-by,  Jo ! 
Next  time  I  come,  I  shall  expect  to  find  the  boys  mak- 
ing patclrwork." 

"  It  wouldn't  hurt  them  a  bit.  I  don't  give  in,  mind 
you ;  for  my  experiments  always  fail  a  few  times  before 
they  succeed.  Love  to  Amy  and  my  blessed  Marmee," 
called  Mrs.  Jo,  as  the  carriage  drove  away;  and  the 
last  Mr.  Laurie  saw  of  her,  she  was  consoling  Daisy  for 
her  failure  by  a  ride  in  the  wheelbarrow,  and  looking  as 
if  she  liked  it. 

Great  was  the  excitement  all  the  week  about  the 
repairs  in  the  carriage-house,  which  went  briskly  on  in 
spite  of  the  incessant  questions,  advice,  and  meddling 
of  the  boys.  Old  Gibbs  was  nearly  driven  wild  with  it 


UNCLE   TEDDY.  187 

all,  but  managed  to  do  his  work  nevertheless ;  and  by 
Friday  night  the  place  was  all  in  order  —  roof  mended, 
shelves  up,  walls  whitewashed,  a  great  window  cut  at 
the  back,  which  let  in  a  flood  of  sunshine,  and  gave 
them  a  fine  view  of  the  brook,  the  meadows,  and  the 
distant  hills ;  and  over  the  great  door,  painted  in  red 
letters,  was  "  The  Laurence  Museum." 

All  Saturday  morning  the  boys  were  planning  how 
it  should  be  furnished  with  their  spoils,  and  when  Mr. 
Laurie  arrived,  bringing  an  aquarium  which  Mrs.  Amy 
said  she  was  tired  of,  their  rapture  was  great. 

The  afternoon  was  spent  in  arranging  things,  and 
when  the  running  and  lugging  and  hammering  was 
over,  the  ladies  were  invited  to  behold  the  institution. 

It  certainly  was  a  pleasant  place,  airy,  clean,  and 
bright.  A  hop-vine  shook  its  green  bells  round  the 
open  window,  the  pretty  aquarium  stood  in  the  middle 
of  the  room,  with  some  delicate  water  plants  rising 
above  the  water,  and  gold-fish  showing  their  brightness 
as  they  floated  to  and  fro  below.  On  either  side  of  the 
window  were  rows  of  shelves  ready  to  receive  the 
curiosities  yet  to  be  found.  Dan's  tall  cabinet  stood 
before  the  great  door,  which  was  fastened  up,  while  the 
small  door  was  to  be  used.  On  the  cabinet  stood  a 
queer  Indian  idol,  very  ugly,  but  very  interesting ;  old 
Mr.  Laurence  sent  it,  as  well  as  a  fine  Chinese  junk  in 
full  sail,  which  had  a  conspicuous  place  on  the  long 
table  in  the  middle  of  the  room.  Above,  swinging  in  a 
loop,  and  looking  as  if  she  was  alive,  hung  Polly,  who 
died  at  an  advanced  age,  had  been  carefully  stuffed,  and 
was  now  presented  by  Mrs.  Jo.  The  walls  were  decorated 
with  all  sorts  of  things.  A  snake's  skin,  a  big  wasp's  nest, 


188  LITTLE  MEN. 

a  birch-bark  canoe,  a  string  of  birds'  eggs,  wreaths  of 
gray  moss  from  the  South,  and  a  bunch  of  cotton-pods. 
The  dead  bats  had  a  place,  also  a  large  turtle-shell,  and 
an  ostrich-egg  proudly  presented  by  Demi,  who  volun- 
teered to  explain  these  rare  curiosities  to  guests  when- 
ever they  liked.  There  were  so  many  stones  that  it 
was  impossible  to  accept  them  all,  so  only  a  few  of  the 
best  were  arranged  among  the  shells  on  the  shelves,  the 
rest  were  piled  up  in  corners,  to  be  examined  by  Dan 
at  his  leisure. 

Every  one  was  eager  to  give  something,  even  Silas, 
who  sent  home  for  a  stuffed  wild-cat  killed  in  his  youth. 
It  was  rather  moth-eaten  and  shabby,  but  on  a  high 
bracket  and  best  side  foremost  the  effect  was  fine,  for 
the  yellow  glass  eyes  glared,  and  the  mouth  snarled  so 
naturally,  that  Teddy  shook  in  his  little  shoes  at  sight 
of  it,  when  he  came  bringing  his  most  cherished  treas- 
ure, one  cocoon,  to  lay  upon  the  shrine  of  science. 

"  Isn't  it  beautiful  ?  I  'd  no  idea  we  had  so  many 
curious  things.  I  gave  that;  don't  it  look  well  ?  AVe 
might  make  a  lot  by  charging  something  for  letting  folks 
see  it." 

Jack  added  that  last  suggestion  to  the  general  chatter 
that  went  on  as  the  family  viewed  the  room. 

"  This  is  a  free  museum,  and  if  there  is  any  speculat- 
ing on  it  I  '11  paint  out  the  name  over  the  door,"  said 
Mr.  Laurie,  turning  so  quickly  that  Jack  wished  he 
had  held  his  tongue. 

"Hear!  hear!"  cried  Mr.  Bhaer. 

"Speech!  speech!"  added  Mrs.  Jo. 

u  Can't,  I  'm  too  bashful.  You  give  them  a  lecture 
yourself —  you  are  used  to  it,"  Mr.  Laurie  answered, 


UNCLE  TEDDY.  189 

retreating  towards  the  window,  meaning  to  escape. 
But  she  held  him  fast,  and  said,  laughing  as  she  looked 
at  the  dozen  pairs  of  dirty  hands  about  her,  — 

"  If  I  did  lecture,  it  would  be  on  the  chemical  and 
cleansing  properties  of  soap.  Come  now,  as  the  founder 
of  the  institution,  you  really  ought  to  give  us  a  few 
moral  remarks,  and  we  will  applaud  tremendously." 

Seeing  that  there  was  no  way  of  escaping,  Mr.  Laurie 
looked  up  at  Polly  hanging  overhead,  seemed  to  find 
inspiration  in  the  brilliant  old  bird,  and  sitting  down 
upon  the  table,  said,  in  his  pleasant  way,  — 

"  There  is  one  thing  I  'd  like  to  suggest,  boys,  and 
that  is,  I  want  you  to  get  some  good  as  well  as  much 
pleasure  out  of  this.  Just  putting  curious  or  pretty 
things  here  won't  do  it ;  so  suppose  you  read  up  about 
them,  so  that  when  anybody  asks  questions  you  can 
answer  them,  and  understand  the  matter.  I  used  to 
like  these  things  myself,  and  should  enjoy  hearing 
about  them  now,  for  I  've  forgotten  all  I  once  knew. 
It  wasn't  much,  was  it,  Jo  ?  Here 's  Dan  now,  full  of 
stories  about  birds,  and  bugs,  and  so  on ;  let  him  take 
care  of  the  museum,  and  once  a  week  the  rest  of  you 
take  turns  to  read  a  composition,  or  tell  about  some 
animal,  mineral,  or  vegetable.  We  should  all  like  that, 
and  I  think  it  would  put  considerable  useful  knowledge 
into  our  heads.  What  do  you  say,  Professor  ?  " 

"  I  'd  like  it  much,  and  will  give  the  lads  all  the  help 
I  can.  But  they  will  need  books  to  read  up  these  new 
subjects,  and  we  have  not  many,  I  fear,"  began  Mr. 
Bhaer,  looking  much  pleased,  and  planning  many  fine 
lectures  on  geology,  which  he  liked.  "  We  should  have 
a  library  for  the  special  purpose." 


190  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Is  that  a  useful  sort  of  book,  Dan  ?  "  asked  Mr.  Lau- 
rie, pointing  to  the  volume  that  lay  open  by  the  cabinet. 

"  Oh,  yes !  it  tells  all  I  want  to  know  about  insects. 
I  had  it  here  to  see  how  to  fix  the  butterflies  right.  I 
covered  it,  so  it  is  not  hurt ; "  and  Dan  caught  it  up, 
fearing  the  lender  might  think  him  careless. 

"  Give  it  here  a  minute ; "  and,  pulling  out  his  pencil, 
Mr.  Laurie  wrote  Dan's  name  hi  it,  saying,  as  he  set  the 
book  up  on  one  of  the  corner  shelves,  where  nothing 
stood  but  a  stuffed  bird  without  a  tail,  "  There,  that  is 
the  beginning  of  the  museum  library.  I'll  hunt  up 
some  more  books,  and  Demi  shall  keep  them  in  order. 
Where  are  those  jolly  little  books  we  used  to  read,  Jo  ? 
6  Insect  Architecture '  or  some  such  name  —  all  about 
ants  having  battles,  and  bees  having  queens,  and  crickets 
eating  holes  in  our  clothes  and  stealing  milk,  and  larks 
of  that  sort." 

"  In  the  garret  at  home.  I  '11  have  them  sent  out, 
and  we  will  plunge  into  Natural  History  with  a  will," 
said  Mrs.  Jo,  ready  for  any  thing. 

"  Won't  it  be  hard  to  write  about  such  things  ? " 
asked  Nat,  who  hated  compositions. 

"  At  first,  perhaps  ;  but  you  will  soon  like  it.  If  you 
think  that  hard,  how  would  you  like  to  have  this  sub- 
ject given  to  you,  as  it  was  to  a  girl  of  thirteen  :  —  A 
conversation  between  Themistocles,  Aristides,  and  Per- 
icles on  the  proposed  appropriation  of  the  funds  of  the 
confederacy  of  Delos  for  the  ornamentation  of  Athens  ?  " 
said  Mrs.  Jo. 

The  boys  groaned  at  the  mere  sound  of  the  long 
names,  and  the  gentlemen  laughed  at  the  absurdity  of 
the  lesson. 


UNCLE   TEDDY.  191 

"  Did  she  write  it  ?  "  asked  Demi,  in  an  awe-stricken 
tone. 

"  Yes,  but  you  can  imagine  what  a  piece  of  work  she 
made  of  it,  though  she  was  rather  a  bright  child." 

"  I  'd  like  to  have  seen  it,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer. 

"  Perhaps  I  can  find  it  for  you ;  I  went  to  school  with 
her,"  and  Mrs.  Jo  looked  so  wicked  that  every  one  knew 
who  the  little  girl  was. 

Hearing  of  this  fearful  subject  for  a  composition  quite 
reconciled  the  boys  to  the  thought  of  writing  about 
familiar  things.  Wednesday  afternoon  was  appointed 
for  the  lectures,  as  they  preferred  to  call  them,  for  some 
chose  to  talk  instead  of  write.  Mr.  Bhaer  promised  a 
portfolio  in  which  the  written  productions  should  be 
kept,  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  said  she  would  attend  the  course 
with  great  pleasure. 

Then  the  dirty-handed  society  went  off  to  wash,  fol- 
lowed by  the  Professor,  trying  to  calm  the  anxiety  of 
Rob,  who  had  been  told  by  Tommy  that  all  water  was 
full  of  invisible  polywogs. 

"  I  like  your  plan  very  much,  only  don't  be  too  gen- 
erous, Teddy,"  said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  when  they  were  left 
alone.  "  You  know  most  of  the  boys  have  got  to 
paddle  their  own  canoes  when  they  leave  us,  and  too 
much  sitting  in  the  lap  of  luxury  will  unfit  them  for  it." 

"I'll  be  moderate,  but  do  let  me  amuse  myself.  I 
get  desperately  tired  of  business  sometimes,  and  nothing 
freshens  me  up  like  a  good  frolic  with  your  boys.  I 
like  that  Dan  very  much,  Jo.  He  isn't  demonstrative  ; 
but  he  has  the  eye  of  a  hawk,  and  when  you  have 
tamed  him  a  little  he  will  do  you  credit." 

"  I  'm  so  glad  you  think  so.     Thank  you  very  much 


192  LITTLE  MEN. 

for  your  kindness  to  him,  especially  for  this  museum 
affair ;  it  will  keep  him  happy  while  he  is  lame,  give  me 
a  chance  to  soften  and  smooth  this  poor,  rough  lad,  and 
make  him  love  us.  What  did  inspire  you  with  such  a 
beautiful,  helpful  idea,  Teddy?"  asked  Mrs.  Bhaer, 
glancing  back  at  the  pleasant  room,  as  she  turned  to 
leave  it. 

Laurie  took  both  her  hands  in  his,  and  answered, 
with  a  look  that  made  her  eyes  fill  with  happy  tears  — 

"  Dear  Jo !  I  have  known  what  it  is  to  be  a  mother- 
less boy,  and  I  never  can  forget  how  much  you  and 
yours  have  done  for  me  all  these  years." 


CHAPTER    XIL 
H  UCKLEBERRIES. 

THERE  was  a  great  clashing  of  tin  pails,  much 
running  to  and  fro,  and  frequent  demands  for 
something  to  eat,  one  August  afternoon,  for  the  boys 
were  going  huckleberrying,  and  made  as  much  stir 
about  it  as  if  they  were  setting  out  to  find  the  North- 
West  Passage. 

"  Now,  my  lads,  get  off  as  quietly  as  you  can,  for 
Rob  is  safely  out  of  the  way,  and  won't  see  you,"  said 
Mrs.  Bhaer,  as  she  tied  Daisy's  broad-brimmed  hat,  and 
settled  the  great  blue  pinafore  in  which  she  had  envel- 
oped Nan. 

But  the  plan  did  not  succeed,  for  Rob  had  heard  the 
bustle,  decided  to  go,  and  prepared  himself,  without  a 
thought  of  disappointment.  The  troop  was  just  get- 
ting under  way  when  the  little  man  came  marching 
down  stairs  with  his  best  hat  on,  a  bright  tin  pail  in 
his  hand,  and  a  face  beaming  with  satisfaction. 

"  Oh,  dear !  now  we  shall  have  a  scene,"  sighed  Mrs. 
Bhaer,  who  found  her  eldest  son  very  hard  to  manage 
at  times.  • 

"  I  'm  all  ready,"  said  Rob,  and  took  his  place  in  the 
ranks  with  such  perfect  unconsciousness  of  his  mistake, 
that  it  really  was  very  hard  to  undeceive  him. 
13 


194  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  It 's  too  far  for  you,  my  love ;  stay  and  take  care 
of  me,  for  I  shall  be  all  alone,"  began  his  mother. 

"  You  've  got  Teddy.  I  'm  a  big  boy,  so  I  can  go ; 
you  said  I  might  when  I  was  bigger,  and  I  am  now," 
persisted  Rob,  with  a  cloud  beginning  to  dim  the 
brightness  of  his  happy  face. 

"We  are  going  up  to  the  great  pasture,  and  it's 
ever  so  far;  we  don't  want  you  tagging  on,"  cried 
Jack,  who  did  not  admire  the  little  boys. 

"  I  won't  tag,  I  '11  run  and  keep  up.  O  mamma !  let 
me  go  !  I  want  to  fill  my  new  pail,  and  I  '11  bring  'em 
all  to  you.  Please,  please,  I  will  be  good ! "  prayed 
Hobby,  looking  up  at  his  mother,  so  grieved  and  disap- 
pointed that  her  heart  began  to  fail  her. 

"But,  my  deary,  you'll  get  so  tired  and  hot  you 
won't  have  a  good  time.  Wait  till  I  go,  and  then  we 
will  stay  all  day,  and  pick  as  many  berries  as  you 
want." 

u  You  never  do  go,  you  are  so  busy,  and  I  'm  tired  of 
waiting.  I'd  rather  go  and  get  the  berries  for  you 
all  myself.  I  love  to  pick  'em,  and  I  want  to  fill  my 
new  pail  dreffly,"  sobbed  Rob. 

The  pathetic  sight  of  great  tears  tinkling  into  the 
dear  new  pail,  and  threatening  to  fill  it  with  salt  water 
instead  of  huckleberries,  touched  all  the  ladies  present. 
His  mother  patted  the  weeper  on  his  back;  Daisy 
offered  to  stay  at  home  with  him ;  and  Nan  said,  in  her 
decided  way, — 

"Let  him  come  ;  I'll  take  care  of  him." 

"If  Franz  was  going  I  wouldn't  mind,  for  he  is 
very  careful ;  but  he  is  haying  with  the  father,  and  I  'm 
not  sure  about  the  rest  of  you,"  began  Mrs.  Bhaer. 


HUCKLEBRERIES.  195 

"  It 's  so  far,"  put  in  Jack. 

"I'd  carry  him  if  I  was  going  —  wish  I  was,"  said 
Dan,  with  a  sigh. 

"  Thank  you,  dear,  but  you  must  take  care  of  your 
foot.  I  wish  I  could  go.  Stop  a  minute,  I  think  I  can 
manage  it  after  all ; "  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  ran  out  to  the 
steps,  waving  her  apron  wildly. 

Silas  was  just  driving  away  in  the  hay-cart,  but 
turned  back,  and  agreed  at  once,  when  Mrs.  Jo  pro- 
posed that  he  should  take  the  whole  party  to  the 
pasture,  and  go  for  them  at  five  o'clock. 

"It  will  delay  your  work  a  little,  but  never  mind; 
we  will  pay  you  in  huckleberry  pies,"  said  Mrs.  Jo, 
knowing  Silas's  weak  point. 

His  rough,  brown  face  brightened  up,  and  he  said, 
with  a  cheery  "Haw!  haw!"  —  "Wai  now,  Mis 
Bhaer,  if  you  go  to  bribin'  of  me,  I  shall  give  in  right 
away." 

"Now,  boys,  I  have  arranged  it  so  that  you  can  all 
go,"  said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  running  back  again,  much  re- 
lieved, for  she  loved  to  make  them  happy,  and  always 
felt  miserable  when  she  had  disturbed  the  serenity  of 
her  little  sons ;  for  she  believed  that  the  small  hopes 
and  plans  and  pleasures  of  children  should  be  tenderly 
respected  by  grown-up  people,  and  never  rudely 
thwarted  or  ridiculed. ' 

"  Can  I  go  ?  "  said  Dan,  delighted. 

"  I  thought  especially  of  you.  Be  careful,  and  never 
mind  the  berries,  but  sit*  about  and  enjoy  the  lovely 
things  which  you  know  how  to  find  all  about  you," 
answered  Mrs.  Bhaer,  who  remembered  his  kind  offer 
to  her  boy. 


196  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Me  too !  me  too !  "  sung  Rob,  dancing  with  joy,  and 
clapping  his  precious  pail  and  cover  like  castanets. 

"Yes,  and  Daisy  and  Nan  must  take  good  care  of 
you.  Be  at  the  bars  at  five  o'clock,  and  Silas  will 
come  for  you  all." 

Robby  cast  himself  upon  his  mother  in  a  burst  of 
gratitude,  promising  to  bring  her  every  berry  he  picked, 
and  not  eat  one.  Then  they  were  all  packed  into  the 
hay-cart,  and  went  rattling  away,  the  brightest  face 
among  the  dozen  being  that  of  Rob,  as  he  sat  between 
his  two  temporary  little  mothers,  beaming  upon  the 
whole  world,  and  waving  his  best  hat ;  for  his  indulgent 
mamma  had  not  the  heart  to  bereave  him  of  it,  since 
this  was  a  gala-day  to  him. 

Such  a  happy  afternoon  as  they  had,  in  spite  of  the 
mishaps  which  usually  occur  on  such  expeditions !  Of 
course  Tommy  came  to  grief,  tumbled  upon  a  hornets' 
nest  and  got  stung ;  but  being  used  to  woe,  he  bore  the 
smart  manfully,  till  Dan  suggested  the  application  of 
damp  earth,  which  much  assuaged  the  pain.  Daisy  saw 
a  snake,  and  in  flying  from  it  lost  half  her  berries ;  but 
Demi  helped  her  to  fill  up  again,  and  discussed  reptiles 
most  learnedly  the  while.  Ned  fell  out  of  a  tree,  and 
split  his  jacket  down  the  back,  but  suffered  no  other 
fracture.  Emil  and  Jack  established  rival  claims  to  a 
certain  thick  patch,  and  while  they  were  squabbling 
about  it,  Stuffy  quickly  and  quietly  stripped  the  bushes 
and  fled  to  the  protection  of  Dan,  who  was  enjoying 
himself  immensely.  The  crutch  was  no  longer  neces- 
sary, and  he  was  delighted  to  see  how  strong  his  foot 
felt  as  he  roamed  about  the  great  pasture,  mil  of  inter- 
esting rocks  and  stumps,  with  familiar  little  creatures 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  197 

in  the  grass,  and  well-known  insects  dancing  in  the 
air. 

But  of  all  the  adventures  that  happened  on  this  after- 
noon that  which  befell  Nan  and  Rob  was  the  most  excit- 
ing, and  it  long  remained  one  of  the  favorite  histories 
of  the  household.  Having  explored  the  country  pretty 
generally,  torn  three  rents  in  her  frock,  and  scratched 
her  face  in  a  barberry-bush,  Nan  began  to  pick  the  ber- 
ries that  shone  like  big,  black  beads  on  the  low,  green 
bushes.  Her  nimble  fingers  flew,  but  still  her  basket 
did  not  fill  up  as  rapidly  as  she  desired,  so  she  kept 
wandering  here  and  there  to  search  for  better  places, 
instead  of  picking  contentedly  and  steadily  as  Daisy 
did.  Rob  followed  Nan,  for  her  energy  suited  him 
better  than  his  cousin's  patience,  and  he  too  was  anx- 
ious to  have  the  biggest  and  best  berries  for  Mannar. 

"  I  keep  putting  'em  in,  but  it  don't  fill  up,  and  I  'm 
so  tired,"  said  Rob,  pausing  a  moment  to  rest  his  short 
legs,  and  beginning  to  think  huckleberrying  was  not  all 
his  fancy  painted  it ;  for  the  sun  blazed,  Nan  skipped 
hither  and  thither  like  a  grasshopper,  and  the  berries 
fell  out  of  his  pail  almost  as  fast  as  he  put  them  in, 
because,  in  his  struggles  with  the  bushes,  it  was  often 
upside-down. 

"  Last  time  we  came  they  were  ever  so  much  thicker 
over  that  wall  —  great  bouncers;  and  there  is  a  cave 
there,  where  the  boys  made  a  fire.  Let 's  go  and  fill  our 
things  quick,  and  then  hide  in  the  cave  and  let  the  others 
find  us,"  proposed  Nan,  thirsting  for  adventures. 

Rob  consented,  and  away  they  went,  scrambling 
over  the  wall  and  running  down  the  sloping  fields  on 
the  other  side,  till  they  were  hidden  among  the  rocks 


198  LITTLE  MEN. 

and  underbrush.  The  berries  were  thick,  and  at  last  the 
pails  were  actually  full.  It  was  shady  and  cool  down 
there,  and  a  little  spring  gave  the  thirsty  children  a 
refreshing  drink  out  of  its  mossy  cup. 

"  Xow  we  will  go  and  rest  in  the  cave,  and  eat  our 
lunch,"  said  Xan,  well  satisfied  with  her  success  so  far. 

"  Do  you  know  the  way  ?  "  asked  Rob. 

"  'Course  I  do  ;  I  Ve  been  once,  and  I  always  remem- 
ber. Didn't  I  go  and  get  my  box  all  right  ?  " 

That  convinced  Rob,  and  he  followed  blindly  as  Kan 
led  him  over  stock  and  stone,  and  brought  him,  after 
much  meandering,  to  a  small  recess  in  the  rock,  where 
the  blackened  stones  showed  that  fires  had  been  made. 

"  Xow,  isn't  it  nice  ?  "  asked  Xan,  as  she  took  out  a 
bit  of  bread-and-butter,  rather  damaged  by  being  mixed 
up  with  nails,  fishhooks,  stones,  and  other  foreign  sub- 
stances, in  the  young  lady's  pocket. 

"  Yes ;  do  you  think  they  will  find  us  soon  ?  "  asked 
Rob,  who  found  the  shadowy  glen  rather  dull,  and 
began  to  long  for  more  society. 

"  Xo,  I  don't ;  because  if  I  hear  them,  I  shall  hide, 
and  have  fun  making  them  find  me." 

"  P'raps  they  won't  come." 

"  Don't  care  ;  I  can  get  home  myself." 

"  Is  it  a  great  way  ? "  asked  Rob,  looking  at  his 
little,  stubby  boots,  scratched  and  wet  with  his  long 
wandering. 

"It's  six  miles,  I  guess."  Xan's  ideas  of  distance 
were  vague,  and  her  faith  in  her  own  powers  great. 

"I  think  we  better  go  now,"  suggested  Rob,  presently. 

"  I  shan't  go  till  I  have  picked  over  my  berries ; "  and 
Nan  began  what  seemed  to  Rob  an  endless  task. 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  199 

"  Oh,  dear !  you  said  you  'd  take  good  care  of  me," 
he  sighed,  as  the  sun  seemed  to  drop  behind  the  hill  all 
of  a  sudden. 

"  Well,  I  am  taking  care  of  you  as  hard  as  I  can. 
Don't  be  cross,  child ;  I  '11  go  in  a  minute,"  said  Nan, 
who  considered  five-year-old  Robby  a  mere  infant  com- 
pared to  herself. 

So  little  Rob  sat  looking  anxiously  about  him,  and 
waiting  patiently,  for,  spite  of  some  misgivings,  he  felt 
great  confidence  in  Kan. 

"I  guess  it's  going  to  be  night  pretty  soon,"  he 
observed,  as  if  to  himself,  as  a  mosquito  bit  him,  and 
the  frogs  in  a  neighboring  marsh  began  to  pipe  up  for 
the  evening  concert. 

"  My  goodness  me !  so  it  is.  Come  right  away  this 
minute,  or  they  will  be  gone,"  cried  Nan,  looking  up 
from  her  work,  and  suddenly  perceiving  that  the  sun 
was  down. 

"  I  heard  a  horn  about  an  hour  ago ;  may  be  they  were 
blowing  for  us,"  said  Rob,  trudging  after  his  guide  as 
she  scrambled  up  the  steep  hill. 

"  Where  was  it  ?  "  asked  Nan,  stopping  short. 

"  Over  that  way ; "  he  pointed  with  a  dirty  little  finger 
in  an  entirely  wrong  direction. 

"Let's  go  that  way  and  meet  them;"  and  Nan 
wheeled  about,  and  began  to  trot  through  the  bushes, 
feeling  a  trifle  anxious,  for  there  were  so  many  cow- 
paths  all  about  she  could  not  remember  which  way  they 
came. 

On  they  went  over  stock  and  stone  again,  pausing 
now  and  then  to  listen  for  the  horn,  which  did  not  blow 
any  more,  for  it  was  only  the  moo  of  a  cow  on  her 
way  home. 


200  LITTLE  MEN. 

"I  don't  remember  seeing  that  pile  of  stones  —  do 
you  ?  "  asked  Nan,  as  she  sat  on  a  wall  to  rest  a  moment 
aii'l  take  an  observation. 

"  I  don't  remember  any  thing,  but  I  want  to  go  home," 
and  Rob's  voice  had  a  little  tremble  in  it  that  made  Nan 
put  her  arms  round  him  and  lift  him  gently  down,  say- 
ing, in  her  most  capable  way,  — 

"I'm  going  just  as  fast  as  I  can,  dear.  Don't  cry, 
and  when  we  come  to  the  road,  I  '11  carry  you." 

"  Where  is  the  road  ?  "  and  Robby  wiped  his  eyes  to 
look  for  it. 

"  Over  by  that  big  tree.  Don't  you  know  that 's  the 
one  Ned  tumbled  out  of?" 

"  So  it  is.  May  be  they  waited  for  us ;  I'd  like  to  ride 
home  —  wouldn't  you  ?"  and  Robby  brightened  up  as  he 
plodded  along  toward  the  end  of  the  great  pasture. 

"  No,  I  'd  rather  walk,"  answered  Nan,  feeling  quite 
sure  that  she  would  be  obliged  to  do  so,  and  preparing 
her  mind  for  it. 

Another  long  trudge  through  the  fast-deepening  twi- 
light and  another  disappointment,  for  when  they  reached 
the  tree,  they  found  to  their  dismay  that  it  was  not  the 
one  Ned  climbed,  and  no  road  anywhere  appeared. 

"Are  we  lost?"  quavered  Rob,  clasping  his  pail  in 
despair. 

"Not  much.  I  don't  just  see  which  way  to  go,  and 
I  guess  we  'd  better  call." 

So  they  both  shouted  till  they  were  hoarse,  yet 
nothing  answered  but  the  frogs  in  full  chorus. 

"  There  is  another  tall  tree  over  there,  perhaps  that 's 
the  one,"  said  Nan,  whose  heart  sunk  within  her,  though 
she  still  spoke  bravely. 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  201 

"  I  don't  think  I  can  go  any  more ;  my  boots  are  so 
heavy  I  can't  pull  'em ; "  and  Hobby  sat  down  on  a 
stone  quite  worn  out. 

"  Then  we  must  stay  here  all  night.  I  don't  care 
much,  if  snakes  don't  come." 

"  I  'm  frightened  of  snakes.  I  can't  stay  all  night. 
Oh,  dear !  I  don't  like  to  be  lost,"  and  Rob  puckered 
up  his  face  to  cry,  when  suddenly  a  thought  oc- 
curred to  him,  and  he  said,  in  a  tone  of  perfect  confi- 
dence, — 

"  Mannar  will  come  and  find  me  —  she  always  does ; 
I  ain't  afraid  now." 

"  She  won't  know  where  we  are." 

"  She  didn't  know  I  was  shut  up  in  the  ice-house,  but 
she  found  me.  I  know  she  '11  come,"  returned  Robby, 
so  trustfully,  that  Nan  felt  relieved,  and  sat  down  by 
him,  saying,  with  a  remorseful  sigh,  — 

"  I  wish  we  hadn't  run  away." 

"  You  made  me ;  but  I  don't  mind  much  —  Marmar 
will  love  me  just  the  same,"  answered  Rob,  clinging  to 
his  sheet-anchor  when  all  other  hope  was  gone. 

"  I  'm  so  hungry.  Let 's  eat  our  berries,"  proposed 
Nan  after  a  pause,  during  which  Rob  began  to  nod. 

"  So  am  I,  but  I  can't  eat  mine,  'cause  I  told  Mannar 
I  'd  keep  them  all  for  her." 

"You'll  have  to  eat  them  if  no  one  comes  for  us," 
said  Nan,  who  felt  like  contradicting  every  thing  just 
then.  "  If  we  stay  here  a  great  many  days,  we  shall 
eat  up  all  the  berries  in  the  field,  and  then  we  shall 
starve,"  she  added,  grimly. 

"  I  shall  eat  sassafras.  I  know  a  big  tree  of  it,  and 
Dan  told  me  how  squirrels  dig  up  the  roots  and  eat 


202  LITTLE  MEN. 

them,  and  I  love  to  dig,"  returned  Rob,  undaunted 
by  the  prospect  of  starvation. 

"  Yes ;  and  we  can  catch  frogs,  and  cook  them.  My 
father  ate  some  once,  and  he  said  they  were  nice,"  put- 
in  Nan,  beginning  to  find  a  spice  of  romance  even  in 
being  lost  in  a  huckleberry  pasture. 

"  How  could  we  cook  frogs?  we  haven't  got  any  fire." 

"  I  don't  know ;  next  time  I  '11  have  matches  in  iny 
pocket,"  said  Nan,  rather  depressed  by  this  obstacle  to 
the  experiment  in  frog-cookery. 

"  Couldn't  we  light  a  fire  with  a  firefly  ?  "  asked  Rob, 
hopefully,  as  he  watched  them  flitting  to  and  fro  like 
winged  sparks. 

"Let's  try;"  and  several  minutes  were  pleasantly 
spent  in  catching  the  flies,  and  trying  to  make  them 
kindle  a  green  twig  or  two.  "  It 's  a  lie  to  call  them 
^re-flies  when  there  isn't  a  fire  in  them,"  Nan  said,  throw- 
ing one  unhappy  insect  away  with  scorn,  though  it 
shone  its  best,  and  obligingly  walked  up  and  down  the 
twigs  to  please  the  innocent  little  experimenters. 

"Marmar's  a  good  while  coming,"  said  Rob,  after 
another  pause,  during  which  they  watched  the  stars 
overhead,  smelt  the  sweet  fern  crushed  under  foot,  and 
listened  to  the  crickets'  serenade. 

"I  don't  see  why  God  made  any  night;  day  is  so 
much  pleasanter,"  said  Nan,  thoughtfully. 

"  It 's  to  sleep  in,"  answered  Rob,  with  a  yawn. 

u  Then  do  go  to  sleep,"  said  Nan,  pettishly. 

"  I  want  my  own  bed.  Oh,  I  wish  I  could  see  Teddy ! " 
cried  Rob,  painfully  reminded  of  home  by  the  soft  chirp 
of  birds  safe  in  their  little  nests. 

"  I  don't  believe  your  mother  will  ever  find  us,"  said 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  203 

Nan,  who  was  becoming  desperate,  for  she  hated  pa- 
tient waiting  of  any  sort.  "  It 's  so  dark  she  won't  see 
us." 

"  It  was  all  black  in  the  ice-house,  and  I  was  so  scared 
I  didn't  call  her,  but  she  saw  me  ;  and  she  will  see  me 
now,  no  matter  how  dark  it  is,"  returned  confiding  Rob, 
standing  up  to  peer  into  the  gloom  for  the  help  which 
never  failed  him. 

"  I  see  her !  I  see  her ! "  he  cried,  and  ran  as  fast  as 
his  tired  legs  would  take  him  toward  a  dark  figure 
slowly  approaching.  Suddenly  he  stopped,  then  turned 
about,  and  came  stumbling  back,  screaming,  in  a  great 
panic,  — 

"  No,  it 's  a  bear,  a  big  black  one  ! "  and  hid  his  face 
in  Nan's  skirts. 

For  a  moment  Nan  quailed ;  even  her  courage  gave 
out  at  thought  of  a  real  bear,  and  she  was  about  to  turn 
and  flee  in  great  disorder,  when  a  mild  "  Moo ! "  changed 
her  fear  to  merriment,  as  she  said,  laughing,  — 

"  It 's  a  cow,  Robby !  the  nice,  black  cow  we  saw  this 
afternoon." 

The  cow  seemed  to  feel  that  it  was  not  just  the  thing 
to  meet  two  little  people  in  her  pasture  after  dark,  and 
the  amiable  beast  paused  to  inquire  into  the  case.  She 
let  them  stroke  her,  and  stood  regarding  them  with  her 
soft  eyes  so  mildly,  that  Nan,  who  feared  no  animal  but 
a  bear,  was  fired  with  a  desire  to  milk  her. 

"  Silas  taught  me  how ;  and  berries  and  milk  would 
be  so  nice,"  she  said,  emptying  the  contents  of  her  pail 
into  her  hat,  and  boldly  beginning  her  new  task,  while 
Rob  stood  by  and  repeated,  at  her  command,  the  poem 
from  Mother  Goose :  — 


204  LITTLE  MEX. 

"  Cushy  cow,  bonny,  let  down  your  milk, 

Let  down  your  milk  to  me, 
And  I  will  give  you  a  gown  of  silk, 
A  gown  of  silk  and  a  silver  tee." 

But  the  immortal  rhyme  had  little  effect,  for  the 
benevolent  cow  had  already  been  milked,  and  had  only 
half  a  gill  to  give  the  thirsty  children. 

"  Shoo !  get  away !  you  are  an  old  cross  patch,"  cried 
Kan,  ungratefully,  as  she  gave  up  the  attempt  in  despair ; 
and  poor  Mooly  walked  on  with  a  gentle  gurgle  of  sur- 
prise and  reproof 

"  Each  can  have  a  sip,  and  then  we  must  take  a  walk. 
We  shall  go  to  sleep  if  we  don't;  and  lost  people 
mustn't  sleep.  Don't  you  know  how  Hannah  Lee  in 
the  pretty  story  slept  under  the  snow  and  died  ?  " 

"  But  there  isn't  any  snow  now,  and  it 's  nice  and 
warm,"  said  Rob,  who  was  not  blessed  with  as  lively  a 
fancy  as  Xan. 

"No  matter,  we  will  poke  about  a  little,  and  call 
some  more ;  and  then,  if  nobody  comes,  we  will  hide 
under  the  bushes,  like  Hop-o'-my-thumb  and  his 
brothers," 

It  was  a  very  short  walk,  however,  for  Rob  was  so 
sleepy  he  could  not  get  on,  and  tumbled  down  so  often 
that  Nan  entirely  lost  patience,  being  half  distracted  by 
the  responsibility  she  had  taken  upon  herself. 

"  If  you  tumble  down  again,  I  ?11  shake  you,"  she  said, 
lifting  the  poor  little  man  up  very  kindly  as  she  spoke, 
for  Xan's  bark  was  much  worse  than  her  bite. 

"Please  don't.  It's  my  boots  —  they  keep  slipping 
so;"  and  Rob  manfully  checked  the  sob  just  ready  to 
break  out,  adding,  with  a  plaintive  patience  that  touched 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  205 

Nan's  heart,  "  If  the  skeeters  didn't  bite  me  so,  I  could 
go  to  sleep  till  Marmar  comes." 

"  Put  your  head  on  my  lap,  and  I  '11  cover  you  up 
with  my  apron  ;  I  'in  not  afraid  of  the  night,"  said  Nan, 
sitting  down  and  trying  to  persuade  herself  that  she 
did  not  mind  the  shadow  nor  the  mysterious  rustlings 
all  about  her. 

"  Wake  me  up  when  she  comes,"  said  Rob,  and  was 
fast  asleep  in  five  minutes  with  his  head  in  Nan's  lap 
under  the  pinafore. 

The  little  girl  sat  for  some  fifteen  minutes,  staring 
about  her  with  anxious  eyes,  and  feeling  as  if  each 
second  was  an  hour.  Then  a  pale  light  began  to  glim- 
mer over  the  hill-top,  and  she  said  to  herself — 

"  I  guess  the  night  is  over  and  morning  is  coming. 
I  'd  like  to  see  the  sun  rise,  so  I  '11  watch,  and  when  it 
comes  up  we  can  find  our  way  right  home." 

But  before  the  moon's  round  face  peeped  above  the 
hill  to  destroy  her  hope,  Nan  had  fallen  asleep,  leaning 
back  in  a  little  bower  of  tall  ferns,  and  was  deep  in  a 
midsummer  night's  dream  of  fireflies  and  blue  aprons, 
mountains  of  huckleberries,  and  Robby  wiping  away 
the  tears  of  a  black  cow,  who  sobbed,  "  I  want  to  go 
home !  I  want  to  go  home  !  " 

While  the  children  were  sleeping,  peacefully  lulled  by 
the  drowsy  hum  of  many  neighborly  mosquitoes,  the 
family  at  home  were  in  a  great  state  of  agitation.  The 
hay-cart  came  at  five,  and  all  but  Jack,  Emil,  Nan,  and 
Rob  were  at  the  bars  ready  for  it.  Franz  drove  instead 
of  Silas,  and  when  the  boys  told  him  that  the  others 
were  going  home  through  the  wood,  he  said,  looking 
ill-pleased,  "  They  ought  to  have  left  Rob  to  ride,  he 
will  be  tired  out  by  the  long  walk." 


206  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  It 's  shorter  that  way,  and  they  will  carry  him," 
said  Stuffy,  who  was  in  a  hurry  for  his  supper. 

"  You  are  sure  Nan  and  Rob  went  with  them  ?  " 

"  Of  course  they  did ;  I  saw  them  getting  over  the 
wall,  and  sung  out  that  it  was  most  five,  and  Jack 
called  back  that  they  were  going  the  other  way," 
explained  Tommy. 

tt  Very  well,  pile  in  then,"  and  away  rattled  the  hay- 
cart  with  the  tired  children  and  the  full  pails. 

Mrs.  Jo  looked  sober  when  she  heard  of  the  division 
of  the  party,  and  sent  Franz  back  with  Toby  to  find 
and  bring  the  little  ones  home.  Supper  was  over,  and 
the  family  sitting  about  in  the  cool  hall  as  usual,  when 
Franz  came  trotting  back,  hot,  dusty,  and  anxious. 

"  Have  they  come  ?  "  he  called  out  when  half-way  up 
the  avenue. 

"  No !  "  and  Mrs.  Jo  flew  out  of  her  chair  looking  so 
alarmed  that  every  one  jumped  up  and  gathered  round 
Franz. 

"I  can't  find  them  anywhere,"  he  began;  but  the 
words  were  hardly  spoken  when  a  loud  "  Hullo ! " 
startled  them  all,  and  the  next  minute  Jack  and  Emil 
came  round  the  house. 

"  Where  are  Nan  and  Rob  ?  "  cried  Mrs.  Jo,  clutching 
Emil  in  a  way  that  caused  him  to  think  his  aunt  had 
suddenly  lost  her  wits. 

"  I  don't  know.  They  came  home  with  the  others, 
didn't  they  ?  "  he  answered,  quickly. 

"  No ;  George  and  Tommy  said  they  went  with  you." 

"  Well,  they  didn't.  Haven't  seen  them.  We  took 
a  swim  in  the  pond,  and  came  by  the  wood,"  said  Jack, 
looking  alarmed,  as  well  he  might. 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  207 

"  Call  Mr.  Bhaer,  get  the  lanterns,  and  tell  Silas  I 
want  him." 

That  was  all  Mrs.  Jo  said,  but  they  knew  what  she 
meant,  and  flew  to  obey  orders.  In  ten  minutes,  Mr. 
Bhaer  and  Silas  were  off  to  the  wood,  and  Franz  tearing 
down  the  road  on  Old  Andy  to  search  the  great  pas- 
ture. Mrs.  Jo  caught  up  some  food  from  the  table,  a 
little  bottle  of  brandy  from  the  medicine-closet,  took  a 
lantern,  and  bidding  Jack  and  Emil  come  with  her,  and 
the  rest  not  stir,  she  trotted  away  on  Toby,  never  stop- 
ping for  hat  or  shawl.  She  heard  some  one  running 
after  her,  but  said  not  a  word  till,  as  she  paused  to  call 
and  listen,  the  light  of  her  lantern  shone  on  Dan's  face. 

"  You  here !  I  told  Jack  to  come,"  she  said,  half- 
inclined  to  send  him  back,  much  as  she  needed  help. 

"  I  wouldn't  let  him ;  he  and  Emil  hadn't  had  any 
supper,  and  I  wanted  to  come  more  than  they  did." 
He  said,  taking  the  lantern  from  her  and  smiling  up 
in  her  face  with  the  steady  look  in  his  eyes  that  made 
her  feel  as  if,  boy  though  he  was,  she  had  some  one  to 
depend  on. 

Off  she  jumped,  and  ordered  him  on  to  Toby,  in  spite 
of  his  pleading  to  walk ;  then  they  went  on  again  along 
the  dusty,  solitary  road,  stopping  every  now  and  then 
to  call  and  hearken  breathlessly  for  little  voices  to  reply. 

When  they  came  to  the  great  pasture,  other  lights 
were  already  flitting  to  and  fro  like  will-o'-the-wisps, 
and  Mr.  Bhaer's  voice  was  heard  shouting,  "Nan  !  Rob! 
Rob !  Nan  !  "  in  every  part  of  the  field.  Silas  whis- 
tled and  roared,  Dan  plunged  here  and  there  on  Toby, 
who  seemed  to  understand  the  case,  and  went  over  the 
roughest  places  with  unusual  docility.  Often  Mrs.  Jo 


208  LITTLE  MEN. 

hushed  them  all,  saying,  with  a  sob  in  her  throat,  "  The 
noise  may  frighten  them,  let  me  call ;  Robby  will  know 
my  voice ; "  and  then  she  would  cry  out  the  beloved 
little  name  in  every  tone  of  tenderness,  till  the  very 
echoes  whispered  it  softly,  and  the  winds  seemed  to 
waft  it  willingly;  but  still  no  answer  came. 

The  sky  was  overcast  now,  and  only  brief  glimpses 
of  the  moon  were  seen,  heat-lightning  darted  out  of 
the  dark  clouds  now  and  then,  and  a  faint  far-off 
rumble  as  of  thunder  told  that  a  summer-storm  was 
brewing. 

"  O  my  Robby !  my  Robby !  "  mourned  poor  Mrs. 
Jo,  wandering  up  and  down  like  a  pale  ghost,  while  Dan 
kept  beside  her  like  a  faithful  firefly.  "  What  shall  I 
say  to  Nan's  father  if  she  comes  to  harm  ?  Why  did  I 
ever  trust  my  darling  so  far  away  ?  Fritz,  do  you  hear 
any  thing  ?  "  And  when  a  mournful  "  No  "  came  back, 
she  wrung  her  hands  so  despairingly,  that  Dan  sprung 
down  from  Toby's  back,  tied  the  bridle  to  the  bars,  and 
said,  in  his  decided  way,  — 

"  They  may  have  gone  down  to  the  spring  —  I  'm 
going  to  look." 

He  was  over  the  wall  and  away  so  fast  that  she 
could  hardly  follow  him  ;  but  when  she  reached  the 
spot,  he  lowered  the  lantern  and  showed  her  with  joy 
the  marks  of  little  feet  in  the  soft  ground  about  the 
spring.  She  fell  down  on  her  knees  to  examine  the 
tracks,  and  then  sprung  up,  saying  eagerly  — 

"Yes;  that  is  the  mark  of  my  Robby's  little 
boots !  Come  this  way,  they  must  have  gone  on." 

Such  a  weary  search !  But  now  some  inexplicable 
instinct  seemed  to  lead  the  anxious  mother,  for  pres- 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  209 

ently  Dan  uttered  a  cry,  and  caught  up  a  little  shining 
object  lying  in  the  path.  It  was  the  cover  of  the 
new  tin  pail,  dropped  in  the  first  alarm  of  being  lost. 
Mrs.  Jo  hugged  and  kissed  it  as  if  it  were  a  living 
thing;  and  when  Dan  was  about  to  utter  a  glad  shout 
to  bring  the  others  to  the  spot,  she  stopped  him,  say- 
ing, as  she  hurried  on,  "  No,  let  me  find  them ;  I  let 
Rob  go,  and  I  want  to  give  him  back  to  his  father 
all  myself. " 

A  little  farther  on  Nan's  hat  appeared,  and  after 
passing  the  place  more  than  once,  they  came  at  last 
upon  the  babes  in  the  wood,  both  sound  asleep.  Dan 
never  forgot  the  little  picture  on  which  the  light  of 
his  lantern  shone  that  night.  He  thought  Mrs.  Jo 
would  cry  out,  but  she  only  whispered  "  Hush !  "  as 
she  softly  lifted  away  the  apron,  and  saw  the  little 
ruddy  face  below.  The  berry-stained  lips  were  half- 
open  as  the  breath  came  and  went,  the  yellow  hair 
lay  damp  on  the  hot  forehead,  and  both  the  chubby 
hands  held  fast  the  little  pail  still  full. 

The  sight  of  the  childish  harvest,  treasured  through 
all  the  troubles  of  that  night  for  her,  seemed  to 
touch  Mrs.  Jo  to  the  heart,  for  suddenly  she  gathered 
up  her  boy,  and  began  to  cry  over  him,  so  tender- 
ly, yet  so  heartily,  that  he  woke  up,  and  at  first 
seemed  bewildered.  Then  he  remembered,  and  hugged 
her  close,  saying  with  a  laugh  of  triumph  — 

"  I  knew  you  'd  come !  O  Marmar !  I  did  want  you 
so ! "  For  a  moment  they  kissed  and  clung  to  one  an- 
other, quite  forgetting  all  the  world ;  for  no  matter  how 
lost  and  soiled  and  worn-out  wandering  sons  may  be, 
mothers  can  forgive  and  forget  every  thing  as  they 
14 


210  LITTLE  MEN. 

fold  them  in  their  fostering  arms.  Happy  the  son 
whose  faith  in  his  mother  remains  unchanged,  and 
who,  through  all  his  wanderings,  has  kept  some  filial 
token  to  repay  her  brave  and  tender  love. 

Dan  meantime  picked  Nan  out  of  her  bush,  and, 
with  a  gentleness  none  but  Teddy  ever  saw  in  him 
before,  he  soothed  her  first  alarm  at  the  sudden  waking, 
and  wiped  away  her  tears ;  for  Nan  also  began  to  cry 
for  joy,  it  was  so  good  to  see  a  kind  face  and  feel  a 
strong  arm  round  her  after  what  seemed  to  her  ages 
of  loneliness  and  fear. 

"My  poor  little  girl,  don't  cry!  You  are  all  safe 
now,  and  no  one  shall  say  a  word  of  blame  to-night," 
said  Mrs.  Jo,  taking  Nan  into  her  capacious  embrace, 
and  cuddling  both  children  as  a  hen  might  gather  her 
lost  chickens  under  her  motherly  wings. 

"  It  was  my  fault ;  but  I  am  sorry.  I  tried  to  take 
care  of  him,  and  I  covered  him  up  and  let  him  sleep, 
and  didn't  touch  his  berries,  though  I  was  so  hungry ; 
and  I  never  will  do  it  again  —  truly  never,  never," 
Bobbed  Nan,  quite  lost  in  a  sea  of  penitence  and  thank- 
fulness. 

"  Call  them  now,  and  let  us  get  home,"  said  Mrs.  Jo ; 
and  Dan,  getting  upon  the  wall,  sent  the  joyful  word 
u  Found  ! "  ringing  over  the  field. 

How  the  wandering  lights  came  dancing  from  all 
sides,  and  gathered  round  the  little  group  among  the 
sweet  fern  bushes !  Such  a  hugging,  and  kissing,  and 
talking,  and  crying,  as  went  on,  must  have  amazed 
the  glowworms,  and  evidently  delighted  the  mos- 
quitoes, for  they  hummed  frantically,  while  the  lit- 
tle moths  came  in  flocks  to  the  party,  and  the  frogs 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  211 

croaked  as  if  they  could  not  express  their  satisfaction 
loudly  enough. 

Then  they  set  out  for  home,  —  a  queer  party,  for 
Franz  rode  on  to  tell  the  news ;  Dan  and  Toby  led  the 
way ;  then  came  Nan  in  the  strong  arms  of  Silas,  who 
considered  her  "  the  smartest  little  baggage  he  ever  saw," 
and  teased  her  all  the  way  home  about  her  pranks.  Mr. 
Bhaer  would  let  no  one  carry  Rob  but  himself,  and  the 
little  fellow,  refreshed  by  sleep,  sat  up,  and  chattered 
gayly,  feeling  himself  a  hero,  while  his  mother  went 
beside  him  holding  on  to  any  part  of  his  precious  little 
body  that  came  handy,  and  never  tired  of  hearing  him 
say,  "  I  knew  Marmar  would  come,"  or  seeing  him  lean 
down  to  kiss  her,  and  put  a  plump  berry  into  her  mouth, 
" '  Cause  he  picked  'em  all  for  her." 

The  moon  shone  out  just  as  they  reached  the  avenue, 
and  all  the  boys  came  shouting  to  meet  them,  so  the 
lost  lambs  were  borne  in  triumph  and  safety,  and  landed 
in  the  dining-room,  where  the  unromantic  little  things 
demanded  supper  instead  of  preferring  kisses  and  ca- 
resses. They  were  set  down  to  bread  and  milk,  while  the 
entire  household  stood  round  to  gaze  upon  them.  Nan 
soon  recovered  her  spirits,  and  recounted  her  perils  with 
a  relish  now  that  they  were  all  over.  Rob  seemed 
absorbed  in  his  food,  but  put  down  his  spoon  all  of  a 
sudden,  and  set  up  a  doleful  roar. 

"  My  precious,  why  do  you  tky  ?  "  asked  his  mother, 
who  still  hung  over  him. 

"  I  'm  crying  'cause  I  was  lost,"  bawled  Rob,  trying 
to  squeeze  out  a  tear,  and  failing  entirely. 

"  But  you  are  found  now.  Nan  says  you  didn't  cry  out 
in  the  field,  and  I  was  glad  you  were  such  a  brave  boy." 


212  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  I  was  so  busy  being  frightened  I  didn't  have  any 
time  then.  But  I  want  to  cry  now,  'cause  I  don't  like 
to  be  lost,"  explained  Rob,  struggling  with  sleep,  emo- 
tion, and  a  mouthnil  of  bread  and  milk. 

The  boys  set  up  such  a  laugh  at  this  funny  way  of 
making-up  for  lost  time,  that  Rob  stopped  to  look  at 
them,  and  the  merriment  was  so  infectious,  that,  after  a 
surprised  stare,  he  burst  out  into  a  merry  "  Ha,  ha ! " 
and  beat  his  spoon  upon  the  table  as  if  he  enjoyed  the 
joke  immensely. 

"  It  is  ten  o'clock ;  into  bed,  every  man  of  you,"  said 
Mr.  Bhaer,  looking  at  his  watch. 

"  And,  thank  Heaven !  there  will  be  no  empty  ones 
to-night,"  added  Mrs.  Bhaer,  watching,  with  full  eyes, 
Robby  going  up  in  his  father's  arms,  and  Xan,  escorted 
by  Daisy  and  Demi,  who  considered  her  the  most  inter- 
esting heroine  of  their  collection. 

"  Poor  Aunt  Jo  is  so  tired  she  ought  to  be  carried  up 
herself,"  said  gentle  Franz,  putting  his  arm  round  her 
as  she  paused  at  the  stair-foot,  looking  quite  exhausted 
by  her  fright  and  long  walk. 

"  Let 's  make  an  arm-chair,"  proposed  Tommy. 

"  No,  thank  you,  my  lads ;  but  somebody  may  lend 
me  a  shoulder  to  lean  on,"  answered  Mrs.  Jo. 

"  Me !  me  !  "  and  half-a-dozen  jostled  one  another,  all 
eager  to  be  chosen,  for  there  was  something  in  the  pale 
motherly  face  that  touched  the  warm  hearts  under  the 
round  jackets. 

Seeing  that  they  considered  it  an  honor,  Mrs.  Jo  gave 
it  to  the  one  who  had  earned  it,  and  nobody  grumbled 
when  she  put  her  arm  on  Dan's  broad  shoulder,  saying, 
with  a  look  that  made  him  color  up  with  pride  and 
pleasure,  — 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  213 

"He  found  the  children;  so  I  think  he  must  help 
me  up." 

Dan  felt  richly  rewarded  for  his  evening's  work,  not 
only  that  he  was  chosen  from  all  the  rest  to  go  proudly 
up  bearing  the  lamp,  but  because  Mrs.  Jo  said,  heartily, 
"  Good-night,  my  boy !  God  bless  you ! "  as  he  left  her 
at  her  door. 

"  I  wish  I  was  your  boy,"  said  Dan,  who  felt  as  if 
danger  and  trouble  had  somehow  brought  him  nearer 
than  ever  to  her. 

"You  shall  be  my  oldest  son,"  and  she  sealed  her 
promise  with  a  kiss  that  made  Dan  hers  entirely. 

Little  Rob  was  all  right  next  day,  but  Nan  had  a 
headache,  and  lay  on  Mother  Bhaer's  sofa  with  cold- 
cream  upon  her  scratched  face.  Her  remorse  was  quite 
gone,  and  she  evidently  thought  being  lost  rather  a  fine 
amusement.  Mrs.  Jo  was  not  pleased  with  this  state 
of  things,  and  had  no  desire  to  have  her  children  led 
from  the  paths  of  virtue,  or  her  pupils  lying  round  loose 
in  huckleberry  fields.  So  she  talked  soberly  to  Nan, 
and  tried  to  impress  upon  her  mind  the  difference  be- 
tween liberty  and  license,  telling  several  tales  to  enforce 
her  lecture.  She  had  not  decided  how  to  punish  Nan, 
but  one  of  these  stories  suggested  a  way,  and  as  Mrs. 
Jo  liked  odd  penalties  she  tried  it. 

"  All  children  run  away,"  pleaded  Nan,  as  if  it  was  as 
natural  and  necessary  a  thing  as  measles  or  hooping- 
ing  cough. 

"  Not  all,  and  some  who  do  run  away  don't  get  found 
again,"  answered  Mrs.  Jo. 

"Didn't  you  do  it  yourself?"  asked  Nan,  whose 
keen  little  eyes  saw  some  traces  of  a  kindred  spirit 


214  LITTLE  MEN. 

in  the  serious  lady  who  was  sewing  so  morally  before 
her. 

Mrs.  Jo  laughed,  and  owned  that  she  did. 

"  Tell  about  it,"  demanded  Nan,  feeling  that  she  was 
getting  the  upper  hand  in  the  discussion. 

Mrs.  Jo  saw  that,  and  sobered  down  at  once,  saying, 
with  a  remorseful  shake  of  the  head,  — 

"  I  did  it  a  good  many  times,  and  led  my  poor  mother 
rather  a  hard  life  with  my  pranks,  till  she  cured  me." 

"  How  ?  "  and  Nan  sat  up  with  a  face  full  of  interest. 

"  I  had  a  new  pair  of  shoes  once,  and  wanted  to  show 
them ;  so,  though  I  was  told  not  to  leave  the  garden,  I 
ran  away  and  was  wandering  about  all  day.  It  was  in 
the  city,  and  why  I  wasn't  killed  I  don't  know.  Such 
a  time  as  I  had.  I  frolicked  in  the  park  with  dogs, 
sailed  boats  in  the  Back  Bay  with  strange  boys,  dined 
with  a  little  Irish  beggar-girl  on  salt  fish  and  potatoes, 
and  was  found  at  last  fast  asleep  on  a  door-step  with 
my  arms  round  a  great  dog.  It  was  late  in  the  even- 
ing, and  I  was  as  dirty  as  a  little  pig,  and  the  new  shoes 
were  worn  out  —  I  had  travelled  so  far." 

"  How  nice !  "  cried  Nan,  looking  all  ready  to  go  and 
do  it  herself. 

"  It  was  not  nice  next  day ; "  and  Mrs.  Jo  tried  to 
keep  her  eyes  from  betraying  how  much  she  enjoyed 
the  memory  of  her  early  capers. 

"  Did  your  mother  whip  you  ?  "  asked  Nan,  curiously. 

"  She  never  whipped  me  but  once,  and  then  she 
begged  my  pardon,  or  I  don't  think  I  ever  should  have 
forgiven  her,  it  hurt  my  feelings  so  much." 

"Why  did  she  beg  your  pardon ? — my  father  don't." 

"  Because,  when  she  had  done  it,  I  turned  round  and 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  215 

said,  'Well,  you  are  mad  yourself,  and  ought  to  be 
whipped  as  much  as  me.'  She  looked  at  me  a  minute, 
then  her  anger  all  died  out,  and  she  said,  as  if  ashamed, 
'You  are  right,  Jo,  I  am  angry;  and  why  should  I 
punish  you  for  being  in  a  passion  when  I  set  you  such 
a  bad  example  ?  Forgive  me,  dear,  and  let  us  try  to 
help  one  another  in  a  better  way.'  I  never  forgot  it, 
and  it  did  me  more  good  than  a  dozen  rods." 

Nan  sat  thoughtfully  turning  the  little  cold-cream  jar 
for  a  minute,  and  Mrs.  Jo  said  nothing,  but  let  that  idea 
get  well  into  the  busy  little  mind  that  was  so  quick  to 
see  and  feel  what  went  on  about  her. 

"  I  like  that,"  said  Nan,  presently,  and  her  face  looked 
less  elfish,  with  its  sharp  eyes,  inquisitive  nose,  and 
mischievous  mouth.  "What  did  your  mother  do  to 
you  when  you  ran  away  that  time  ?  " 

"  She  tied  me  up  to  the  bed-post  with  a  long  string, 
so  that  I  could  not  go  out  of  the  room,  and  there  I 
stayed  all  day  with  the  little  worn-out  shoes  hanging 
up  before  me  to  remind  me  of  my  fault." 

"I  should  think  that  would  cure  anybody,"  cried 
Nan,  who  loved  he'r  liberty  above  all  things. 

"  It  did  cure  me,  and  I  think  it  will  you,  so  I  am 
going  to  try  it,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  suddenly  taking  a  ball  of 
strong  twine  out  of  a  drawer  in  her  work-table. 

Nan  looked  as  if  she  was  decidedly  getting  the  worst 
of  the  argument  now,  and  sat  feeling  much  crestfallen 
while  Mrs.  Jo  tied  one  end  round  her  waist  and  the 
other  to  the  arm  of  the  sofa,  saying,  as  she  finished  — 

"  I  don't  like  to  tie  you  up  like  a  naughty  little  dog, 
but  if  you  don't  remember  any  better  than  a  dog,  I 
must  treat  you  like  one." 


216  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  I  'd  just  as  lief  be  tied  up  as  not  —  I  like  to  play 
dog;"  and  Nan  put  on  a  don't-care  face,  and  began  to 
growl  and  grovel  on  the  floor. 

Mrs.  Jo  took  no  notice,  but  leaving  a  book  or  two  and 
a  handkerchief  to  hem,  she  went  away,  and  left  Miss 
Nan  to  her  own  devices.  This  was  hot  agreeable,  and 
after  sitting  a  moment  she  tried  to  untie  the  cord.  But 
it  was  fastened  in  the  belt  of  her  apron  behind,  so  she 
began  on  the  knot  at  the  other  end.  It  soon  came 
loose,  and,  gathering  it  up,  Nan  was  about  to  get  out 
of  the  window,  when  she  heard  Mrs.  Jo  say  to  some- 
body as  she  passed  through  the  hall  — 

"  No,  I  don't  think  she  will  run  away  now ;  she  is  an 
honorable  little  girl,  and  knows  that  I  do  it  to  help 
her." 

In  a  minute  Nan  whisked  back,  tied  herself  up,  and 
began  to  sew  violently.  Rob  came  in  a  moment  after, 
and  was  so  charmed  with  the  new  punishment,  that  he 
got  a  jump-rope  and  tethered  himself  to  the  other  arm 
of  the  sofa  in  the  most  social  manner. 

"  I  got  lost  too,  so  I  ought  to  be  tied  up  as  much  as 
Nan,"  he  explained  to  his  mother  when  she  saw  the 
new  captive. 

"  I  'm  not  sure  that  you  don't  deserve  a  little  punish- 
ment, for  you  knew  it  was  wrong  to  go  far  away  from 
the  rest." 

"Nan  took  me,"  began  Rob,  willing  to  enjoy  the 
novel  penalty,  but  not  willing  to  take  the  blame. 

"  You  needn't  have  gone.  You  have  got  a  conscience, 
though  you  are  a  little  boy,  and  you  must  learn  to 
mind  it." 

"  Well,  my  conscience  didn't  prick  me  a  bit  when  she 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  217 

said  '  Let 's  get  over  the  wall,' "  answered  Rob,  quoting 
one  of  Demi's  expressions. 

"  Did  you  stop  to  see  if  it  did  ?  " 

"  No." 

"  Then  you  cannot  telL" 

"  I  guess  it 's  such  a  little  conscience  that  it  don't 
prick  hard  enough  for  me  to  feel  it,"  added  Rob,  after 
thinking  over  the  matter  for  a  minute. 

"  We  must  sharpen  it  up.  It 's  bad  to  have  a  dull 
conscience ;  so  you  may  stay  here  till  dinner-time,  and 
talk  about  it  with  Nan.  I  trust  you  both  not  to  untie 
yourselves  till  I  say  the  word." 

"  No,  we  won't,"  said  both,  feeling  a  certain  sense  of 
virtue  in  helping  to  punish  themselves. 

For  an  hour  they  Were  very  good,  then  they  grew 
tired  of  one  room,  and  longed  to  get  out.  Never  had 
the  hall  seemed  so  inviting;  even  the  little  bedroom 
acquired  a  sudden  interest,  and  they  would  gladly 
have  gone  in  and  played  tent  with  the  curtains  of  the 
best  bed.  The  open  windows  drove  them  wild  because 
they  could  not  reach  them ;  and  the  outer  world  seemed 
so  beautiful,  they  wondered  how  they  ever  found  the 
heart  to  say  it  was  dull.  Nan  pined  for  a  race  round 
the  lawn,  and  Rob  remembered  with  dismay  that  he 
had  not  fed  his  dog  that  morning,  and  wondered  what 
poor  Pollux  would  do.  They  watched  the  clock,  and 
Nan  did  some  nice  calculations  in  minutes  and  seconds, 
while  Rob  learned  to  tell  all  the  hours  between  eight  and 
one  so  well  that  he  never  forgot  them.  It  was  madden- 
ing to  smell  the  dinner,  to  know  that  there  was  to  be 
succotash  and  huckleberry  pudding,  and  to  feel  that 
they  would  not  be  on  the  spot  to  secure  good  helps  of 


218  LITTLE  MEN. 

both.  When  Mary  Ann  began  to  set  the  table,  they 
nearly  cut  themselves  in  two  trying  to  see  what  meat 
there  was  to  be ;  and  Nan  offered  to  help  her  make  the 
beds,  if  she  would  only  see  that  she  had  "  lots  of  sauce 
on  her  pudding." 

When  the  boys  came  bursting  out  of  school,  they 
found  the  children  tugging  at  their  halters  like  a  pair 
of  restive  little  colts,  and  were  much  edified,  as  well  as 
amused,  by  the  sequel  to  the  exciting  adventures  of  the 
night. 

"  Untie  me  now,  Mannar ;  my  conscience  will  prick 
like  a  pin  next  time,  I  know  it  will,"  said  Rob,  as  the 
bell  rang,  and  Teddy  came  to  look  at  him  with  sorrowful 
surprise. 

u  We  shall  see,"  answered  his  mother,  setting  him 
free.  He  took  a  good  run  down  the  hall,  back  through 
the  dining-room,  and  brought  up  beside  Nan,  quite 
beaming  with  virtuous  satisfaction. 

"  I  '11  bring  her  dinner  to  her,  may  I  ?  "  he  asked, 
pitying  his  fellow-captive. 

"  That 's  my  kind  little  son !  Yes,  pull  out  the  table, 
and  get  a  chair ; "  and  Mrs.  Jo  hurried  away  to  quell 
the  ardor  of  the  others,  who  were  always  in  a  raging 
state  of  hunger  at  noon. 

Nan  ate  alone,  and  spent  a  long  afternoon  attached 
to  the  sofa.  Mrs.  Bhaer  lengthened  her  bonds  so  that 
she  could  look  out  of  the  window ;  and  there  she  stood 
watching  the  boys  play,  and  all  the  little  summer  creat- 
ures enjoying  their  liberty.  Daisy  had  a  pic-nic  for 
the  dolls  on  the  lawn,  so  that  Nan  might  see  the  fun  if 
she  could  not  join  in  it.  Tommy  turned  his  best  somer- 
saults to  console  her ;  Demi  sat  on  the  steps  reading 


HUCKLEBERRIES.  219 

aloud  to  himself,  which  amused  Nan  a  good  deal ;  and 
Dan  brought  a  little  tree-toad  to  show  her  as  the  most 
delicate  attention  in  his  power. 

But  nothing  atoned  for  the  loss  of  freedom ;  and  a 
few  hours  of  confinement  taught  Nan  how  precious  it 
was.  A  good  many  thoughts  went  through  the  little 
head  that  lay  on  the  window-sill  during  the  last  quiet 
hour  when  all  the  children  went  to  the  brook  to  see 
Emil's  new  ship  launched.  She  was  to  have  christened 
it,  and  had  depended  on  smashing  a  tiny  bottle  of  cur- 
rant-wine over  the  prow  as  it  was  named  Josephine  in 
honor  of  Mrs.  Bhaer.  Now  she  had  lost  her  chance, 
and  Daisy  wouldn't  do  it  half  so  well.  Tears  rose  to 
her  eyes  as  she  remembered  that  it  was  all  her  own 
fault ;  and  she  said  aloud,  addressing  a  fat  bee  who  was 
rolling  about  in  the  yellow  heart  of  a  rose  just  under 
the  window  — 

"  If  you  have  run  away,  you  'd  better  go  right  home, 
and  tell  your  mother  you  are  sorry,  and  never  do  so 
any  more." 

"  I  am  glad  to  hear  you  give  him  such  good  advice, 
and  I  think  he  has  taken  it,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  smiling,  as 
the  bee  spread  his  dusty  wings  and  flew  away. 

Nan  brushed  off  a  bright  drop  or  two  that  shone  on 
the  window-sill,  and  nestled  against  her  friend  as  she 
took  her  on  her  knee,  adding  kindly  —  for  she  had  seen 
the  little  drops,  and  knew  what  they  meant  — 

"  Do  you  think  my  mother's  cure  for  running  away  a 
good  one?" 

"  Yes,  ma'am,"  answered  Nan,  quite  subdued  by  her 
quiet  day. 

"  I  hope  I  shall  not  have  to  try  it  again." 


220  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  I  guess  not ; "  and  Nan  looked  up  with  such  an 
earnest  little  face  that  Mrs.  Jo  felt  satisfied,  and  said 
no  more,  for  she  liked  to  have  her  penalties  do  their 
own  work,  and  did  not  spoil  the  effect  by  too  much 
moralizing. 

Here  Rob  appeared,  bearing  with  infinite  care  what 
Asia  called  a  "  sarcer  pie,"  meaning  one  baked  in  a 
saucer. 

"  It 's  made  out  of  some  of  my  berries,  and  I  'm  going 
to  give  you  half  at  supper-time,"  he  announced,  with  a 
flourish. 

"  What  makes  you,  when  I  'm  so  naughty  ?  "  asked 
Nan,  meekly. 

"  Because  we  got  lost  together.  You  ain't  going  to 
be  naughty  again,  are  you?" 

"  Never,"  said  Nan,  with  great  decision. 

a  Oh,  goody !  now  let 's  go  and  get  Mary  Ann  to  cut 
this  for  us  all  ready  to  eat ;  it 's  'most  tea-time ; "  and 
Rob  beckoned  with  the  delicious  little  pie. 

Nan  started  to  follow,  then  stopped,  and  said  — 

"  I  forgot,  I  can't  go." 

"  Try  and  see,"  said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  who  had  quietly 
untied  the  cord  sash  while  she  had  been  talking. 

Nan  saw  that  she  was  free,  and  with  one  tempestuous 
kiss  to  Mrs.  Jo,  she  was  off  like  a  humming-bird, 
followed  by  Robby,  dribbling  huckleberry  juice  as  he 
ran. 


CHAPTER    XIII. 

GOLDILOCKS. 

AFTER  the  last  excitement  peace  descended  upon 
Plumfield  and  reigned  unbroken  for  several  weeks, 
for  the  elder  boys  felt  that  the  loss  of  Nan  and  Rob  lay 
at  their  door,  and  all  became  so  paternal  in  their  care 
that  they  were  rather  wearying ;  while  the  little  ones 
listened  to  Nan's  recital  of  her  perils  so  many  times, 
that  they  regarded  being  lost  as  the  greatest  ill  hu- 
manity was  heir  to,  and  hardly  dared  to  put  their  little 
noses  outside  the  great  gate  lest  night  should  suddenly 
descend  upon  them,  and  ghostly  black  cows  come 
looming  through  the  dusk. 

"  It  is  too  good  to  last,"  said  Mrs.  Jo ;  for  years  of 
boy-culture  had  taught  her  that  such  lulls  were  usually 
followed  by  outbreaks  of  some  sort,  and  when  less  wise 
women  would  have  thought  that  the  boys  had  become 
confirmed  saints,  she  prepared  herself  for  a  sudden 
eruption  of  the  domestic  volcano. 

One  cause  of  this  welcome  calm  was  a  visit  from  little 
Bess,  whose  parents  lent  her  for  a  week  while  they 
were  away  with  Grandpa  Laurence,  who  was  poorly. 
The  boys  regarded  Goldilocks  as  a  mixture  of  child, 
angel,  and  fairy,  for  she  was  a  lovely  little  creature,  and 


222  LITTLE  MEN. 

the  golden  hair  which  she  inherited  from  her  blonde 
mamma  enveloped  her  like  a  shining  veil,  behind 
which  she  smiled  upon  her  worshippers  when  gracious, 
and  hid  herself  when  offended.  Her  father  would  not 
have  it  cut,  and  it  hung  below  her  waist,  so  soft  and 
fine  and  bright,  that  Demi  insisted  that  it  was  silk  spun 
from  a  cocoon.  Every  one  praised  the  little  Princess, 
but  it  did  not  seem  to  do  her  harm,  only  to  teach  her 
that  her  presence  brought  sunshine,  her  smiles  made 
answering  smiles  on  other  faces,  and  her  baby  griefs 
filled  every  heart  with  tenderest  sympathy. 

Unconsciously  she  did  her  young  subjects  more  good 
than  many  a  real  sovereign,  for  her  rule  was  very  gentle 
and  her  power  was  felt  rather  than  seen.  Her  natural 
refinement  made  her  dainty  in  all  things,  and  had  a 
good  effect  upon  the  careless  lads  about  her.  She 
wrould  let  no  one  touch  her  roughly  or  with  unclean 
hands,  and  more  soap  was  used  during  her  visits  than 
at  any  other  time,  because  the  boys  considered  it  the 
highest  honor  to  be  allowed  to  carry  her  highness,  and 
the  deepest  disgrace  to  be  repulsed  with  the  disdainful 
command,  "  Do  away,  dirty  boy ! " 

Loud  voices  displeased  her  and  quarrelling  frightened 
her;  so  gentler  tones  came  into  the  boyish  voices  as  they 
addressed  her,  and  squabbles  were  promptly  suppressed 
in  her  presence  by  lookers-on  if  the  principals  could 
not  restrain  themselves.  She  liked  to  be  waited  on, 
and  the  biggest  boys  did  her  little  errands  without  a 
murmur,  while  the  small  lads  were  her  devoted  slaves 
in  all  things.  They  begged  to  be  allowed  to  draw  her 
carnage,  bear  her  berry-basket,  or  pass  her  plate  at 
table.  No  service  was  too  humble,  and  Tommy  and 


GOLDILOCKS.  223 

Ned  came  to  blows  before  they  could  decide  which 
should  have  the  honor  of  blacking  her  little  boots. 

Nan  was  especially  benefited  by  a  week  in  the  society 
of  a  well-bred  lady,  though  such  a  very  small  one ;  for 
Bess  would  look  at  her  with  a  mixture  of  wonder  and 
alarm  in  her  great  blue  eyes  when  the  hoyden  screamed 
and  romped ;  and  she  shrunk  from  her  as  if  she  thought 
her  a  sort  of  wild  animal.  Warm-hearted  Nan  felt  this 
very  much.  She  said  at  first,  "  Pooh !  I  don't  care ! " 
But  she  did  care,  and  was  so  hurt  when  Bess  said,  "I 
love  my  tuzzin  best,  tause  she  is  twiet,"  that  she  shook 
poor  Daisy  till  her  teeth  chattered  in  her  head,  and 
then  fled  to  the  barn  to  cry  dismally.  In  that  general 
refuge  for  perturbed  spirits  she  found  comfort  and  good 
counsel  from  some  source  or  other.  Perhaps  the 
swallows  from  their  mud-built  nests  overhead  twittered 
her  a  little  lecture  on  the  beauty  of  gentleness.  How- 
ever that  might  have  been,  she  came  out  quite  subdued, 
and  carefully  searched  the  orchard  for  a  certain  kind  of 
early  apple  that  Bess  liked  because  it  was  sweet  and 
small  and  rosy.  Armed  with  this  peace-offering,  she 
approached  the  Princess,  and  humbly  presented  it. 
To  her  great  joy  it  was  graciously  accepted,  and  when 
Daisy  gave  Nan  a  forgiving  kiss,  Bess  did  likewise,  as  if 
she  felt  that  she  had  been  too  severe  and  desired  to 
apologize.  After  this  they  played  pleasantly  together, 
and  Nan  enjoyed  the  royal  favor  for  days.  To  be  sure 
she  felt  a  little  like  a  wild  bird  in  a  pretty  cage  at  first, 
and  occasionally  had  to  slip  out  to  stretch  her  wings 
in  a  long  flight,  or  to  sing  at  the  top  of  her  voice,  where 
neither  would  disturb  the  plump  turtle-dove  Daisy,  nor 
the  dainty  golden  canary  Bess.  But  it  did  her  good ; 


224  LITTLE  MEN. 

for,  seeing  how  every  one  loved  the  little  Princess  for 
her  small  graces  and  virtues,  she  began  to  imitate 
her,  because  Nan  wanted  much  love,  and  tried  hard  to 
win  it. 

Not  a  boy  in  the  house  but  felt  the  pretty  child's  in- 
fluence, and  was  improved  by  it  without  exactly  know- 
ing how  or  why,  for  babies  can  work  miracles  in  the 
hearts  that  love  them.  Poor  Billy  found  infinite  satis- 
faction in  staring  at  her,  and  though  she  did  not  like  it 
she  permitted  it  without  a  frown,  after  she  had  been 
made  to  understand  that  he  was  not  quite  like  the 
others,  and  on  that  account  must  be  more  kindly 
treated.  Dick  and  Dolly  overwhelmed  her  with 
willow  whistles,  the  only  thing  they  knew  how  to  make, 
and  she  accepted  but  never  used  them.  Rob  served 
her  like  a  little  lover,  and  Teddy  followed  her  like  a 
pet  dog.  Jack  she  did  not  like,  because  he  was  afflicted 
with  warts  and  had  a  harsh  voice.  Stuffy  displeased 
her  because  he  did  not  eat  tidily,  and  George  tried 
hard  not  to  gobble,  that  he  might  not  disgust  the 
dainty  little  lady  opposite.  Ned  was  banished  from 
court  in  utter  disgrace  when  he  was  discovered  torment- 
ing some  unhappy  field-mice.  Goldilocks  never  could 
forget  the  sad  spectacle,  and  retired  behind  her  veil 
when  he  approached,  waving  him  away  with  an  im- 
perious little  hand,  and  crying,  in  a  tone  of  mingled 
grief  and  anger, — 

"  Xo,  I  tarn't  love  him ;  he  tut  the  poor  mouses'  little 
tails  off,  and  they  queeked  ! " 

Daisy  promptly  abdicated  when  Bess  came,  and  took 
the  humble  post  of  chief  cook,  while  Xan  was  first  maid 
of  honor ;  Emil  was  chancellor  of  the  exchequer,  and 


GOLDILOCKS.  225 

spent  the  public  moneys  lavishly  in  getting  up  spectacles 
that  cost  whole  ninepences.  Franz  was  prime  minister, 
and  directed  her  affairs  of  state,  planned  royal  prog- 
resses through  the  kingdom,  and  kept  foreign  powers 
in  order.  Demi  was  her  philosopher,  and  fared  much 
better  than  such  gentlemen  usually  do  among  crowned 
heads.  Dan  was  her  standing  army,  and  defended  her 
territories  gallantly ;  Tommy  was  court  fool,  and  Nat  a 
tuneful  Rizzio  to  this  innocent  little  Mary. 

Uncle  Fritz  and  Aunt  Jo  enjoyed  this  peaceful  epi- 
sode, and  looked  on  at  the  pretty  play  in  which  the 
young  folk  unconsciously  imitated  their  elders,  without 
adding  the  tragedy  that  is  so  apt  to  spoil  the  dramas 
acted  on  the  larger  stage. 

"  They  teach  us  quite  as  much  as  we  teach  them," 
said  Mr.  Bhaer. 

"  Bless  the  dears !  they  never  guess  how  many  hints 
they  give  us  as  to  the  best  way  of  managing  them," 
answered  Mrs.  Jo. 

"  I  think  you  were  right  about  the  good  effect  of 
having  girls  among  the  boys.  Nan  has  stirred  up  Daisy, 
and  Bess  is  teaching  the  little  bears  how  to  behave 
better  than  we  can.  If  this  reformation  goes  on  as  it 
has  begun,  I  shall  soon  feel  like  Dr.  Blimber  with  his 
model  young  gentlemen,"  said  Professor,  laughing,  as  he 
saw  Tommy  not  only  remove  his  own  hat,  but  knock 
off  Ned's  also,  as  they  entered  the  hall  where  the  Prin- 
cess was  taking  a  ride  on  the  rocking-horse,  attended  by 
Rob  and  Teddy  astride  of  chairs,  and  playing  gallant 
knights  to  the  best  of  their  ability. 

"  You  will  never  be  a  Blimber,  Fritz,  you  couldn't  do 
it  if  you  tried ;  and  our  boys  will  never  submit  to  the 
15 


226  LITTLE  MEN. 

forcing  process  of  that  famous  hot-bed.  No  fear  that 
they  will  be  too  elegant :  American  boys  like  liberty 
too  well.  But  good  manners  they  cannot  fail  to  have, 
if  we  give  them  the  kindly  spirit  that  shines  through 
the  simplest  demeanor,  making  it  courteous  and  cord- 
ial, like  yours,  my  dear  old  boy." 

"  Tut !  tut !  we  will  not  compliment ;  for  if  I  begin 
you  will  run  away,  and  I  have  a  wish  to  enjoy  this 
happy  half  hour  to  the  end ; "  yet  Mr.  Bhaer  looked 
pleased  with  the  compliment,  for  it  was  true,  and  Mrs. 
Jo  felt  that  she  had  received  the  best  her  husband  could 
give  her,  by  saying  that  he  found  his  truest  rest  and 
happiness  in  her  society. 

"  To  return  to  the  children  :  I  have  just  had  another 
proof  of  Goldilocks'  good  influence,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  draw- 
ing her  chair  nearer  the  sofa,  where  the  Professor  lay 
resting  after  a  long  day's  work  in  his  various  gardens. 
"  Nan  hates  sewing,  but  for  love  of  Bess  has  been  toiling 
half  the  afternoon  over  a  remarkable  bag  in  Avhich  to 
present  a  dozen  of  our  love-apples  to  her  idol  when  she 
goes.  I  praised  her  for  it,  and  she  said,  in  her  quick 
way,  '  I  like  to  sew  for  other  people  ;  it  is  stupid  sewing 
for  myself.'  I  took  the  hint,  and  shall  give  her  some 
little  shirts  and  aprons  for  Mrs.  Carney's  children.  She 
is  so  generous,  she  will  sew  her  fingers  sore  for  them, 
and  I  shall  not  have  to  make  a  task  of  it." 

"  But  needlework  is  not  a  fashionable  accomplishment, 
my  dear." 

"  Sony  for  it.  My  girls  shall  learn  all  I  can  teach 
them  about  it,  even  if  they  give  up  the  Latin,  Algebra, 
and  half-a-dozen  ologies  it  is  considered  necessary  for 
girls  to  muddle  their  poor  brains  over  now-a-days. 


GOLDILOCKS.  227 

Amy  means  to  make  Bess  an  accomplished  woman; 
but  the  dear's  mite  of  a  forefinger  has  little  pricks  on  it 
already,  and  her  mother  has  several  specimens  of  needle- 
work which  she  values  more  than  the  clay  bird  with- 
out a  bill,  that  filled  Laurie  with  such  pride  when  Bess 
made  it." 

"  I  also  have  a  proof  of  the  Princess's  power,"  said 
Mr.  Bhaer,  after  he  had  watched  Mrs.  Jo  sew  on  a 
button  with  an  air  of  scorn  for  the  whole  system  of 
fashionable  education.  "Jack  is  so  unwilling  to  be 
classed  with  Stuffy  and  Ned,  as  distasteful  to  Bess,  that 
ho  came  to  me  a  little  while  ago,  and  asked  me  to  touch 
his  warts  with  caustic.  I  have  often  proposed  it,  and 
he  never  would  consent ;  but  now  he  bore  the  smart 
manfully,  and  consoles  his  present  discomfort  by  hopes 
of  future  favor,  when  he  can  show  her  fastidious  lady- 
ship a  smooth  hand." 

Mrs.  Bhaer  laughed  at  the  story,  and  just  then  Stuffy 
came  in  to  ask  if  he  might  give  Goldilocks  some  of  the 
bonbons  his  mother  had  sent  him. 

"  She  is  not  allowed  to  eat  sweeties ;  but  if  you  like 
to  give  her  the  pretty  box  with  the  pink  sugar-rose  in 
it,  she  would  like  it  very  much,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  unwilling 
to  spoil  this  unusual  piece  of  self-denial,  for  the  "  fat 
boy  "  seldom  offered  to  share  his  sugar-plums. 

"Won't  she  eat  it?  I  shouldn't  like  to  make  her 
sick,"  said  Stuffy,  eying  the  delicate  sweetmeat  lovingly, 
yet  putting  it  into  the  box. 

"  Oh,  no,  she  won't  touch  it,  if  I  tell  her  it  is  to  look 
at,  not  to  eat.  She  will  keep  it  for  weeks,  and  never 
think  of  tasting  it.  Can  you  do  as  much  ?  " 

"  I  should  hope  so !  I  'm  ever  so  much  older  than 
she  is,"  cried  Stuffy,  indignantly. 


228  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Well,  suppose  we  try.  Here,  put  your  bonbons  in 
this  bag,  and  see  how  long  you  can  keep  them.  Let 
me  count  —  two  hearts,  four  red  fishes,  three  barley- 
sugar  horses,  nine  almonds,  and  a  dozen  chocolate 
drops.  Do  you  agree  to  that?"  asked  sly  Mrs.  Jo, 
popping  the  sweeties  into  her  little  spool-bag. 

"  Yes,"  said  Stuffy,  with  a  sigh  ;  and  pocketing  the 
forbidden  fruit,  he  went  away  to  give  Bess  the  present, 
that  won  a  smile  from  her,  and  permission  to  escort  her 
round  the  garden. 

"  Poor  Stuffy's  heart  has  really  got  the  better  of  his 
stomach  at  last,  and  his  efforts  will  be  much  encouraged 
by  the  rewards  Bess  gives  him,"  said  Mrs.  Jo. 

"Happy  the  man  who  can  put  temptation  in  his 
pocket  and  learn  self-denial  from  so  sweet  a  little 
teacher ! "  added  Mr.  Bhaer,  as  the  children  passed  the 
window,  Stuffy's  fat  face  full  of  placid  satisfaction,  and 
Goldilocks  surveying  her  sugar-rose  with  polite  interest, 
though  she  would  have  preferred  a  real  flower  with  a 
"pitty  smell." 

When  her  father  came  to  take  her  home,  a  universal 
wail  arose,  and  the  parting  gifts  showered  upon  her 
increased  her  luggage  to  such  an  extent  that  Mr. 
Laurie  proposed  having  out  the  big  wagon  to  take  it 
into  'town.  Every  one  had  given  her  something ;  and 
it  was  found  difficult  to  pack  white  mice,  cake,  a  parcel 
of  shells,  apples,  a  rabbit  kicking  violently  in  a  bag,  a 
large  cabbage  for  his  refreshment,  a  bottle  of  minnows, 
and  a  mammoth  bouquet.  The  farewell  scene  was 
moving,  for  the  Princess  sat  upon  the  hall-table,  sur- 
rounded by  her  subjects.  She  kissed  her  cousins,  and 
held  out  her  hand  to  the  other  boys,  who  shook  it 


GOLDILOCKS.  229 

gently  with  various  soft  speeches,  for  they  were  taught 
not  to  be  ashamed  of  showing  their  emotions. 

"Come  again,  soon,  little  dear,"  whispered  Dan, 
fastening  his  best  green-and-gold  beetle  in  her  hat. 

"  Don't  forgot  me,  Princess,  whatever  you  do,"  said 
the  engaging  Tommy,  taking  a  last  stroke  of  the  pretty 
hair.  * 

"  I  am  coming  to  your  house  next  week,  and  then  I 
shall  see  yon,  Bess,"  added  Nat,  as  if  he  found  consola- 
tion in  the  Jhought. 

"  Do  shake  hands  now,"  cried  Jack,  offering  a  smooth 
paw. 

"  Here  are  two  nice  new  ones  to  remember  us  by," 
said  Dick  and  Dolly,  presenting  fresh  whistles,  quite 
unconscious  that  seven  old  ones  had  been  privately 
deposited  in  the  kitchen-stove. 

"  My  little  precious  !  I  shall  work  you  a  book-mark 
right  away,  and  you  must  keep  it  always?  said  Nan, 
with  a  warm  embrace. 

But  of  all  the  farewells,  poor  Billy's  was  the  most 
pathetic,  for  the  thought  that  she  was  really  going 
became  so  unbearable  that  he  cast  himself  down  before 
her,  hugging  her  little  blue  boots  .and  blubbering  de- 
spairingly, "Don't  go  away!  oh,  don't!"  Goldilocks 
was  so  touched  by  this  burst  of  feeling,  that  she  leaned 
over  and  lifting  the  poor  lad's  head,  said,  in  her  soft, 
little  voice, — 

"  Don't  cry,  poor  Billy !  I  will  tiss  you  and  turn 
adain  soon." 

This  promise  consoled  Billy,  and  he  fell  back  beam- 
ing with  pride  at  the  unusual  honor  conferred  upon 
him. 


230  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Me  too !  me  too ! "  clamored  Dick  and  Dolly,  feel- 
ing that  their  devotion  deserved  some  return.  The 
others  looked  as  if  they  would  like  to  join  in  the  cry  ; 
and  something  in  the  kind,  merry  faces  about  her  moved 
the  Princess  to  stretch  out  her  arms  and  say,  with  reck- 
less condescension,  — 

"  I  will  tiss  evvybody ! " 

Like  a  swarm  of  bees  about  a  very  sweet  flower,  the 
affectionate  lads  surrounded  their  pretty  playmate,  and 
kissed  her  till  she  looked  like  a  little  rose,  npt  roughly, 
but  so  enthusiastically  that  nothing  but  the  crown  of 
her  hat  was  visible  for  a  moment.  Then  her  father 
rescued  her,  and  she  drove  away  still  smiling  and 
waving  her  hands,  while  the  boys  sat  on  the  fence 
screaming  like  a  flock  of  guinea-fowls,  "  Come  back ! 
come  back ! "  till  she  was  out  of  sight. 

They  all  missed  her,  and  each  dimly  felt  that  he  was 
better  for  having  known  a  creature  so  lovely,  delicate, 
and  sweet;  for  little  Bess  appealed  to  the  chivalrous 
instinct  in  them  as  something  to  love,  admire,  and  pro- 
tect with  a  tender  sort  of  reverence.  Many  men 
remember  some  pretty  child  who  has  made  a  place  in 
his  heart  and  kept  her  memory  alive  by  the  simple 
magic  of  her  innocence ;  these  little  men  were  just 
learning  to  feel  this  power,  and  to  love  it  for  its  gentle 
influence,  not  ashamed  to  let  the  small  hand  lead  them, 
nor  to  own  their  loyalty  to  womankind,  even  in  the 
bud. 


CHAPTER    XIV. 

DAMON  AND   PYTHIAS. 

MRS  BHAER  was  right;  peace  was  only  a  tem- 
porary lull,  a  storm  was  brewing,  and  two  days 
after  Bess  left,  a  moral  earthquake  shook  Plumfield  to 
its  centre. 

Tommy's  hens  were  at  the  bottom  of  the  trouble,  for 
if  they  had  not  persisted  in  laying  so  many  eggs,  he 
could  not  have  sold  them  and  made  such  sums.  Money 
is  the  root  of  all  evil,  and  yet  it  is  such  a  useful  root 
that  we  cannot  get  on  without  it  any  more  than  we  can 
without  potatoes.  Tommy  certainly  could  not,  for  he 
spent  his  income  so  recklessly,  that  Mr.  Bhaer  was 
obliged  to  insist  on  a  savings-bank,  and  presented  him 
with  a  private  one  —  an  imposing  tin  edifice,  with  the 
name  over  the  door,  and  a  tall  chimney,  down  which 
the  pennies  were  to  go,  there  to  rattle  temptingly  till 
leave  was  given  to  open  a  sort  of  trap-door  in  the  floor. 

The  house  increased  in  weight  so  rapidly,  that 
Tommy  soon  became  satisfied  with  his  investment,  and 
planned  to  buy  unheard-of  treasures  with  his  capital. 
He  kept  account  of  the  sums  deposited,  and  was  prom- 
ised that  he  might  break  the  bank  as  soon  as  he  had 
five  dollars,  on  condition  that  he  spent  the  money 


232  LITTLE  MEN. 

wisely.  Only  one  dollar  was  needed,  and  the  day  Mrs. 
Jo  paid  him  for  four  dozen  eggs,  he  was  so  delighted, 
that  he  raced  off  to  the  barn  to  display  the  bright 
quarters  to  Nat,  who  was  also  laying  by  money  for  the 
long-desired  violin. 

"  I  wish  I  had  'em  to  put  with  my  three  dollars,  then 
I  'd  soon  get  enough  to  buy  my  fiddle,"  he  said,  looking 
wistfully  at  the  money. 

"  P'raps  I  '11  lend  you  some.  I  haven't  decided  yet 
what  I  '11  do  with  mine,"  said  Tommy,  tossing  up  his 
quarters,  and  catching  them  as  they  fell. 

"  Hi !  boys !  come  down  to  the  brook  and  see  what 
a  jolly  great  snake  Dan's  got ! "  called  a  voice  from 
behind  the  barn. 

"  Come  on,"  said  Tommy ;  and,  laying  his  money  in- 
side the  old  winnowing  machine,  away  he  ran,  followed 
by  Nat. 

The  snake  was  very  interesting,  and  then  a  long  chase 
after  a  lame  crow,  and  its  capture,  so  absorbed  Tommy's 
mind  and  time,  that  he  never  thought  of  his  money  till 
he  was  safely  in  bed  that  night. 

"Never  mind,  no  one  but  Nat  knows  where  it  is," 
said  the  easy-going  lad,  and  fell  asleep  untroubled  by 
any  anxiety  about  his  property. 

Next  morning,  just  as  the  boys  assembled  for  school, 
Tommy  rushed  into  the  room  breathlessly,  demand- 
ing— 

"  I  say,  who  has  got  my  dollar?" 

"  What  are  you  talking  about  ?  "  asked  Franz. 

Tommy  explained,  and  Nat  corroborated  his  state- 
ment. 

Every  one  else  declared  they  knew  nothing  about  it, 


DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS.  233 

and  began  to  look  suspiciously  at  Nat,  who  got  more 
and  more  alarmed  and  confused  with  each  denial. 

"  Somebody  must  have  taken  it,"  said  Franz,  as 
Tommy  shook  his  fist  at  the  whole  party,  and  wrath- 
fully  declared  that  — 

"  By  thunder  turtles!  if  I  get  hold  of  the  thief,  I '11 
give  him  what  he  won't  forget  in  a  hurry." 

"  Keep  cool,  Tom ;  we  shall  find  him  out ;  thieves 
always  come  to  grief,"  said  Dan,  as  one  who  knew  some- 
thing of  the  matter. 

"May  be  some  tramp  slept  in  the  barn  and  took  it," 
suggested  Ned. 

"No,  Silas  don't  allow  that;  besides,  a  tramp 
wouldn't  go  looking  in  that  old  machine  for  money," 
said  Emil,  with  scorn. 

"  Wasn't  it  Silas  himself?  "  said  Jack. 

"  Well,  I  like  that !  Old  Si  is  as  honest  as  daylight. 
You  wouldn't  catch  him  touching  a  penny  of  ours," 
said  Tommy,  handsomely  defending  his  chief  admirer 
from  suspicion. 

"  Whoever  it  was  had  better  tell,  and  not  wait  to  be 
found  out,"  said  Demi,  looking  as  if  an  awful  misfortune 
had  befallen  the  family. 

"  I  know  you  think  it's  me,"  broke  out  Nat,  red  and 
excited. 

"You  are  the  only  one  who  knew  where  it  was," 
said  Franz. 

"I  can't  help  it  —  I  didn't  take  it.  I  tell  you  I 
didn't  —  I  didn't ! "  cried  Nat,  in  a  desperate  sort  of  way. 

"  Gently,  gently,  my  son !  What  is  all  this  noise 
about?"  and  Mr.  Bhaer  walked  in  among  them. 

Tommy  repeated  the  story  of  his  loss,  and,  as  he 


234  LITTLE  MEN. 

listened,  Mr.  Bhaer's  face  grew  graver  and  graver; 
for,  with  all  their  faults  and  follies,  the  lads  till  now 
had  been  honest. 

"  Take  your  seats,"  he  said ;  and,  when  all  were  in 
their  places,  he  added  slowly,  as  his  eye  went  from  face 
to  face  with  a  grieved  look,  that  was  harder  to  bear 
than  a  storm  of  words,  — 

"  Now,  boys,  I  shall  ask  each  one  of  you  a  single 
question,  and  I  want  an  honest  answer.  I  am  not  going 
to  try  to  frighten,  bribe,  or  surprise  the  truth  out  of  you, 
for  every  one  of  you  have  got  a  conscience,  and  know 
what  it  is  for.  Now  is  the  time  to  undo  the  wrong  done 
to  Tommy,  and  to  set  yourselves  right  before  us  all.  I 
can  forgive  the  yielding  to  a  sudden  temptation  much 
easier  than  I  can  deceit.  Don't  add  a  lie  to  the  theft, 
but  confess  frankly,  and  we  will  all  try  to  help  you 
make  us  forget  and  forgive." 

He  paused  a  moment,  and  one  might  have  heard  a 
pin  drop,  the  room  was  so  still ;  then  slowly  and  im- 
pressively he  put  the  question  to  each  one,  receiving  the 
same  answer  in  varying  tones  from  all.  Every  face  was 
flushed  and  excited,  so  that  Mr.  Bhaer  could  not  take 
color  as  a  witness,  and  some  of  the  little  boys  were  so 
frightened  that  they  stammered  over  the  two  short 
words  as  if  guilty,  though  it  was  evident  that  they 
could  not  be.  When  he  came  to  Nat,  his  voice  softened, 
for  the  poor  lad  looked  so  wretched,  Mr.  Bhaer  felt  for 
him.  He  believed  him  to  be  the  culprit,  and  hoped  to 
save  the  boy  from  another  lie,  by  winning  him  to  tell 
the  truth  without  fear. 

"  Now,  my  son,  give  me  an  honest  answer.  Did  you 
take  the  money  ?  " 


DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS.  235 

"No,  sir!"  and  Nat  looked  up  at  him  imploringly. 

As  the  words  fell  from  his  trembling  lips,  somebody 
hissed. 

"  Stop  that !  "  cried  Mr.  Bhaer,  with  a  sharp  rap  on 
his  desk,  as  he  looked  sternly  toward  the  corner  whence 
the  sound  came. 

Ned,  Jack,  and  Emil  sat  there,  and  the  first  two 
looked  ashamed  of  themselves,  but  Emil  called  out  — 

"  It  wasn't  me,  uncle !  I  'd  be  ashamed  to  hit  a  fellow 
when  he  is  down." 

"  Good  for  you ! "  cried  Tommy,  who  was  in  a  sad 
i^ate  of  affliction  at  the  trouble  his  unlucky  dollar  had 
made. 

"  Silence ! "  commanded  Mr.  Bhaer ;  and  when  it 
came,  he  said  soberly  — 

"  I  am  very  sorry,  Nat,  but  evidences  are  against  you, 
and  your  old  fault  makes  us  more  ready  to  doubt  you 
than  we  should  be  if  we  could  trust  you  as  we  do  some 
of  the  boys,  who  never  fib.  But  mind,  my  child,  I  do 
not  charge  you  with  this  theft ;  I  shall  not  punish 
you  for  it  till  I  am  perfectly  sure,  nor  ask  any  thing  more 
about  it.  I  shall  leave  it  for  you  to  settle  with  your 
own  conscience.  If  you  are  guilty,  come  to  me  at 
any  hour  of  the  day  or  night  and  confess  it,  and  I  will 
forgive  and  help  you  to  amend.  If  you  are  innocent, 
the  truth  will  appear  sooner  or  later,  and  the  instant  it 
does,  I  will  be  the  first  to  beg  your  pardon  for  doubting 
you,  and  will  so  gladly  do  my  best  to  clear  your  charac- 
ter before  us  all." 

"  I  didn't !  I  didn't !"  sobbed  Nat,  with  his  head  down 
upon  his  arms,  for  he  could  not  bear  the  look  of  distrust 
and  dislike  which  he  read  in  the  many  eyes  fixed  on  him. 


236  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  I  hope  not."  Mr.  Bhaer  paused  a  minute,  as  if  to 
give  the  culprit,  whoever  he  might  be,  one  more  chance. 
Nobody  spoke,  however,  and  only  sniffs  of  sympathy 
from  some  of  the  little  fellows  broke  the  silence.  Mr. 
Bhaer  shook  his  head,  and  added,  regretfully,  — 

"  There  is  nothing  more  to  be  done,  then,  and  I  have 
but  one  thing  to  say  :  I  shall  not  speak  of  this  again, 
and  I  wish  you  all  to  follow  my  example.  I  cannot 
expect  you  to  feel  as  kindly  toward  any  one  whom  you 
suspect  as  before  this  happened,  but  I  do  expect  and 
desire  that  you  will  not  torment  the  suspected  person 
in  any  way,  —  he  will  have  a  hard  enough  time  with- 
out that.  Now  go  to  your  lessons." 

"  Father  Bhaer  let  Nat  off  too  easy, "  muttered  Ned 
to  Emil,  as  they  got  out  their  books. 

"  Hold  your  tongue,"  growled  Emil,  who  felt  that  this 
event  was  a  blot  upon  the  family  honor. 

Many  of  the  boys  agreed  with  Ned,  but  Mr.  Bhaer 
was  right,  nevertheless;  and  Nat  would  have  been 
wiser  to  confess  on  the  spot  and  have  the  trouble  over, 
for  even  the  hardest  whipping  he  ever  received  from  his 
father  was  far  easier  to  bear  than  the  cold  looks,  the 
avoidance,  and  general  suspicion  that  met  him  on  all 
sides.  If  ever  a  boy -was  sent  to  Coventry  and  kept 
there,  it  was  poor  Nat  •,  and  he  suffered  a  week  of  slow 
torture,  though  not  a  hand  was  raised  against  him,  and 
hardly  a  word  said. 

That  was  the  worst  of  it;  if  they  would  only  have 
talked  it  out,  or  even  have  thrashed  him  all  round,  he 
could  have  stood  it  better  than  the  silent  distrust  that 
made  every  face  so  terrible  to  meet.  Even  Mrs.  Bhaer's 
showed  traces  of  it,  though  her  manner  was  nearly  as 


DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS.  237 

kind  as  ever ;  but  the  sorrowful  anxious  look  in  Father 
Bhaer's  eyes  cut  Nat  to  the  heart,  for  he  loved  his  teacher 
dearly,  and  knew  that  he  had  disappointed  all  his  hopes 
by  this  double  sin. 

Only  one  person  in  the  house  entirely  believed  in  him, 
and  stood  up  for  him  stoutly  against  all  the  rest.  This 
was  Daisy.  She  could  not  explain  why  she  trusted  him 
against  all  appearances,  she  only  felt  that  she  could  not 
doubt  him,  and  her  warm  sympathy  made  her  strong  to 
take  his  part.  She  would  not  hear  a  word  against  him 
from  any  one,  and  actually  slapped  her  beloved  Demi 
when  he  tried  to  convince  her  that  it  must  have  been 
Nat,  because  no  one  else  knew  where  the  money  was. 

"  May  be  the  hens  ate  it ;  they  are  greedy  old  things," 
she  said  ;  and  when  Demi  laughed,  she  lost  her  temper, 
slapped  the  amazed  boy,  and  then  burst  out  crying  and 
ran  away,  still  declaring,  "  He  didn't !  he  didn't !  he 
didn't!" 

Neither  aunt  nor  uncle  tried  to  shake  the  child's 
faith  in  her  friend,  but  only  hoped  her  innocent  instinct 
might  prove  sure,  and  loved  her  all  the  better  for  it. 
Nat  often  said,  after  it  was  over,  that  he  couldn't  have 
stood  it,  if  it  had  not  been  for  Daisy.  When  the  others 
shunned  him,  she  clung  to  him  closer  than  ever,  and 
turned  her  back  on  the  rest.  She  did  not  sit  on  the 
stairs  now  when  he  solaced  himself  with  the  old  fiddle, 
but  went  in  and  sat  beside  him,  listening  with  a  face  so 
full  of  confidence  and  affection,  that  Nat  forgot  disgrace 
for  a  time,  and  was  happy.  She  asked  him  to  help  her 
with  her  lessons,  she  cooked  him  marvellous  messes  in 
her  kitchen,  which  he  ate  manfully,  no  matter  what 
they  were,  for  gratitude  gave  a  sweet  flavor  to  the  most 


238  LITTLE  MEN. 

distasteful.  She  proposed  impossible  games  of  cricket 
and  ball,  when  she  found  that  he  shrank  from  joining 
the  other  boys.  She  put  little  nosegays  from  her  gar- 
den on  his  desk,  and  tried  in  every  way  to  show  that 
she  was  not  a  fair-weather  friend,  but  faithful  through 
evil  as  well  as  good  repute.  Nan  soon  followed  her 
example,  in  kindness  at  least ;  curbed  her  sharp  tongue, 
and  kept  her  scornful  little  nose  from  any  demonstra- 
tion of  doubt  or  dislike,  which  was  good  of  Madame 
Giddy-gaddy,  for  she  firmly  believed  that  Nat  took  the 
money. 

Most  of  the  boys  let  him  severely  alone,  but  Dan, 
though  he  said  he  despised  him  for  being  a  coward, 
watched  over  him  with  a  grim  sort  of  protection,  and 
promptly  cuffed  any  lad  who  dared  to  molest  his  mate 
or  make  him  afraid.  His  idea  of  friendship  was  as  high 
as  Daisy's,  and,  in  his  own  rough  way,  he  lived  up  to  it 
as  loyally. 

Sitting  by  the  brook  one  afternoon,  absorbed  in  the 
study  of  the  domestic  habits  of  water-spiders,  he  over- 
heard a  bit  of  conversation  on  the  other  side  of  the 
wall.  Ned,  who  was  intensely  inquisitive,  had  been  on 
tenter-hooks  to  know  certainly  wTho  wTas  the  culprit; 
for  of  late .  one  or  two  of  the  boys  had  begun  to  think 
that  they  were  wrong,  Nat  was  so  steadfast  in  his  de- 
nials, and  so  meek  in  his  endurance  of  their  neglect. 
This  doubt  had  teased  Ned  past  bearing,  and  he  had 
several  times  privately  beset  Nat  with  questions,  re- 
gardless of  Mr.  Bhaer's  express  command.  Finding 
Nat  reading  alone  on  the  shady  side  of  the  wall,  Ned 
could  not  resist  stopping  for  a  nibble  at  the  forbidden 
subject.  He  had  worried  Nat  for  some  ten  minutes 


DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS.  239 

before  Dan  arrived,  and  the  first  word  the  spider-student 
heard  were  these,  in  Nat's  patient,  pleading  voice,  — 

"  Don't,  Ned !  oh  don't !  I  can't  tell  you,  be- 
cause I  don't  know,  and  it 's  mean  of  you  to  keep 
nagging  at  me  on  the  sly,  when  Father  Bhaer  told 
you  not  to  plague  me.  You  wouldn't  dare  to  if  Dan 
was  round." 

"  I  ain't  afraid  of  Dan ;  he 's  nothing  but  an  old  bully. 
Don't  believe  but  what  he  took  Tom's  money,  and  you 
know  it,  and  won't  tell.  Come,  now ! " 

"  He  didn't,  but,  if  he  did,  I  would  stand  up  for  him, 
he  has  always  been  so  good  to  me,"  said  Nat,  so  ear- 
nestly, that  Dan  forgot  his  spiders,  and  rose  quickly  to 
thank  him,  but  Ned's  next  words  arrested  him. 

"  I  know  Dan  did  it,  and  gave  the  money  to  you. 
Shouldn't  wonder  if  he  got  his  living  picking  pockets 
before  he  came  here,  for  nobody  knows  any  thing  about 
him  but  you,"  said  Ned,  not  believijig  his  own  words, 
but  hoping  to  get  the  truth  out  of  Nat  by  making  him 
angry. 

He  succeeded  in  a  part  of  his  ungenerous  wish,  for 
Nat  cried  out,  fiercely,  — 

"  If  you  say  that  again  I  '11  go  and  tell  Mr.  Bhaer  all 
about  it.  I  don't  want  to  tell  tales,  but,  by  George !  I 
will,  if  you  don't  let  Dan  alone." 

"  Then  you  '11  be  a  sneak,  as  well  as  a  liar  and  a 
thief,"  began  Ned,  with  a  jeer,  for  Nat  had  borne  insult 
to  himself  so  meekly,  the  other  did  not  believe  he 
would  dare  to  face  the  master  just  to  stand  up  for  Dan. 

What  he  might  have  added  I  cannot  tell,  for  the 
words  were  hardly  out  of  his  mouth  when  a  long  arm  from 
behind  took  him  by  the  collar,  and,  jerking  him  over 


240  LITTLE  MEN. 

the  wall  in  a  most  promiscuous  way,  landed  him  with  a 
splash  in  the  middle  of  the  brook. 

"  Say  that  again  and  I  '11  duck  you  till  you  can't  see!" 
cried  Dan,  looking  like  a  modern  Colossus  of  Rhodes 
as  he  stood,  with  a  foot  on  either  side  the  narrow  stream, 
glaring  down  at  the  discomfited  youth  in  the  water. 

"  I  was  only  in  fun,"  said  Ned. 

"  You  are  a  sneak  yourself  to  badger  Nat  round  the 
corner.  Let  me  catch  you  at  it  again,  and  I  '11  souse 
you  in  the  river  next  time.  Get  up,  and  clear  out !  " 
thundered  Dan,  in  a  rage. 

Ned  fled,  dripping,  and  his  impromptu  sitz-bath 
evidently  did  him  good,  for  he  was  veiy  respectful  to 
both  the  boys  after  that,  and  seemed  to  have  left  his 
curiosity  in  the  brook.  As  he  vanished  Dan  jumped 
over  the  wall,  and  found  Nat  lying  as  if  quite  worn  out 
and  bowed  down  with  his  troubles. 

"  He  won't  pester  you  again,  I  guess.  If  he  does, 
just  tell  me,  and  I  '11  see  to  him,"  said  Dan,  trying  to 
cool  down. 

"  I  don't  mind  what  he  says  about  me  so  much,  I  Ve 
got  used  to  it,"  answered  Nat,  sadly ;  "  but  I  hate  to 
have  him  pitch  into  you." 

"How  do  you  know  he  isn't  right?"  asked  Dan, 
turning  his  face  away. 

"What,  about  the  money?"  cried  Nat,  looking  up 
with  a  startled  air. 

"Yes." 

"  But  I  don't  believe  it !  You  don't  care  for  money ; 
all  you  want  is  your  old  bugs  and  things,"  and  Nat 
laughed,  incredulously. 

"  I  want  a  butterfly-net  as  much  as  you  want  a  fiddle ; 


DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS.  241 

why  shouldn't  I  steal  the  money  for  it  as  much  as  you  ?  " 
said  Dan,  still  turning  away,  and  busily  punching  holes 
in  the  turf  with  his  stick. 

"  I  don't  think  you  would.  You  like  to  fight  and  knock 
folks  round  sometimes,  but  you  don't  lie,  and  I  don't  be- 
lieve you  'd  steal,"  and  Nat  shook  his  head  decidedly. 

"  I  've  done  both.  I  used  to  fib  like  fury ;  it 's  too 
much  trouble  now;  and  I  stole  things  to  eat  out  of 
gardens  when  I  ran  away  from  Page,  so  you  see  I  am 
a  bad  lot,"  said  Dan,  speaking  in  the  rough,  reckless 
way  which  he  had  been  learning  to  drop  lately. 

"  O  Dan  !  don't  say  it 's  you !  I  'd  rather  have  it  any 
of  the  other  boys,"  cried  Nat,  in  such  a  distressed  tone 
that  Dan  looked  pleased,  and  showed  that  he  did,  by 
turning  round  with  a  queer  expression  in  his  face, 
though  he  only  answered  — 

"  I  won't  say  any  thing  about  it.  But  don't  you  fret, 
and  we'll  pull  through  somehow,  see  if  we  don't." 

Something  in  his  face  and  manner  gave  Nat  a  new 
idea ;  and  he  said,  pressing  his  hands  together,  in  the 
eagerness  of  his  appeal,  — 

"  I  think  you  know  who  did  it.  If  you  do,  beg  him 
to  tell,  Dan.  It 's  so  hard  to  have  'em  all  hate  me  for 
nothing.  I  don't  think  I  can  bear  it  much  longer.  If 
I  had  any  place  to  go  to,  I  'd  run  away,  though  I  love 
Plumfield  dearly ;  but  I  'm  not  brave  and  big  like  you, 
so  I  must  stay  and  wait  till  some  one  shows  them  that 
I  haven't  lied." 

As  he  spoke,  Nat  looked  so  broken  and  despairing, 
that  Dan  could  not  bear  it,  and,  muttering  huskily  — 

"  You  won't  wait  long,"  he  walked  rapidly  away,  and 
was  seen  no  more  for  hours. 
16 


242  LITTLE  MEN. 

«  What  is  the  matter  with  Dan  ?  "  asked  the  boys  of 
one  another  several  times  during  the  Sunday  that  fol- 
lowed a  week  which  seemed  as  if  it  would  never  end. 
Dan  was  often  moody,  but  that  day  he  was  so  sober  and 
silent  that  no  one  could  get  any  thing  out  of  him. 
When  they  walked  he»«trayed  away  from  the  rest,  and 
came  home  late.  He  took  no  part  in  the  evening  con- 
versation, but  sat  in  the  shadow,  so  busy  with  his  own 
thoughts  that  he  scarcely  seemed  to  hear  what  was 
going  on.  When  Mrs.  Jo  showed  him  an  unusually 
good  report  in  the  Conscience  Book,  he  looked  at  it 
without  a  smile,  and  said,  wistfully,  — 

".You  think  I  am  getting  on,  don't  you  ?  " 

"  Excellently,  Dan !  and  I  am  so  pleased,  because  I 
always  thought  you  only  needed  a  little  help  to  make 
you  a  boy  to  be  proud  of. " 

He  looked  up  at  her  with  a  strange  expression  in  his 
black  eyes  —  an  expression  of  mingled  pride  and  love 
and  sorrow  which  she  could  not  understand  then — but 
remembered  afterward. 

"  I  'm  afraid  you  '11  be  disappointed,  but  I  do  try,"  he 
said,  shutting  the  book  without  a  sign  of  pleasure  in 
the  page  that  he  usually  liked  so  much  to  read  over 
and  talk  about. 

"  Are  you  sick,  dear  ?  "  asked  Mrs.  Jo,  with  her  hand 
on  his  shoulder. 

"  My  foot  aches  a  little ;  I  guess  I  '11  go  to  bed.  Good- 
night, mother,"  he  added,  and  held  the  hand  against 
his  cheek  a  minute,  then  went  away  looking  as  if  he 
had  said  good-by  to  something  very  dear. 

"  Poor  Dan !  he  takes  Nat's  disgrace  to  heart  sadly. 
He  is  a  strange  boy ;  I  wonder  if  I  ever  shall  under- 


DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS.  243 

stand  him  thoroughly  ?  "  said  Mrs.  Jo  to  herself,  as  she 
thought  over  Dan's  late  improvement  with  real  satis- 
faction, yet  felt  that  there  was  more  in  the  lad  than  she 
had  at  first  suspected. 

One  of  the  things  which  cut  Nat  most  deeply  was  an 
act  of  Tommy's,  for  after  his  loss  Tommy  had  said  to 
him,  kindly  but  firmly,  — 

"  I  don't  wish  to  hurt  you,  Nat,  but  you  see  I  can't 
afford  to  lose  my  money,  so  I  guess  we  won't  be  part- 
ners any  longer ; "  and  with  that  Tommy  rubbed  out 
the  sign,  "  T.  Bangs  &  Co." 

Nat  had  been  very  proud  of  the  "Co.,"  and  had 
hunted  eggs  industriously,  kept  his  accounts  all  straight, 
and  had  added  a  good  sum  to  his  income  from  the  sale 
of  his  share  of  stock  in  trade. 

"  O,  Tom !  must  you  ?  "  he  said,  feeling  that  his  good 
name  was  gone  for  ever  in  the  business  world  if  this 
was  done. 

"  I  must,"  returned  Tommy,  firmly.  "  Emil  says  that 
when  one  man  'bezzles  (I  believe  that 's  the  word  —  it 
means  to  take  money  and  cut  away  with  it)  the 
property  of  a  firm,  the  other  one  sues  him,  or  pitches 
into  him  somehow,  and  won't  have  any  thing  more  to 
do  with  him.  Now  you  have  'bezzled  my  property ;  I 
shan't  sue  you,  and  I  shan't  pitch  into  you,  but  I  must 
dissolve  the  partnership,  because  I  can't  trust  you,  and 
I  don't  wish  to  fail." 

"  I  can't  make  you  believe  me,  and  you  won't  take 
my  money,  though  I  'd  be  thankful  to  give  all  my  dollars 
if  you  'd  only  say  you  don't  think  I  took  your  money. 
Do  let  me  hunt  for  you,  I  won't  ask  any  wages,  but  do 
it  for  nothing.  I  know  all  the  places,  and  I  like  it," 
pleaded  Nat. 


244  LITTLE  MEN. 

But  Tommy  shook  his  head,  and  his  jolly  round  face 
looked  suspicious  and  hard  as  he  said,  shortly,  "  Can't 
do  it;  wish  you  didn't  know  the  places.  Mind  you 
don't  go  hunting  on  the  sly,  and  speculate  in  my  eggs." 

Poor  Nat  was  so  hurt  that  he  could  not  get  over  it. 
He  felt  that  he  had  lost  not  only  his  partner  and  patron, 
but  that  he  was  bankrupt  in  honor,  and  an  outlaw  from 
the  business  community.  No  one  trusted  Ms  word, 
written  or  spoken,  in  spite  of  his  efforts  to  redeem  the 
past  falsehood ;  the  sign  was  down,  the  firm  broken  up, 
and  he  a  ruined  man.  The  barn,  which  was  the  boys' 
Wall  Street,  knew  him  no  more.  Cockletop  and  her 
sisters  cackled  for  him  in  vain,  and  really  seemed  to 
take  his  misfortune  to  heart,  for  eggs  were  fewer,  and 
some  of  the  biddies  retired  in  disgust  to  new  nests, 
which  Tommy  could  not  find. 

"  They  trust  me,"  said  Nat,  when  he  heard  of  it ;  and 
though  the  boys  shouted  at  the  idea,  Nat  found  comfort 
in  it,  for  when  one  is  down  in  the  world,  the  confidence 
of  even  a  speckled  hen  is  most  consoling. 

Tommy  took  no  new  partner,  however,  for  distrust 
had  entered  in,  and  poisoned  the  peace  of  his  once  con- 
fiding soul.  Ned  offered  to  join  him,  but  he  declined, 
saying,  with  a  sense  of  justice  that  did  him  honor  — 

"  It  might  turn  out  that  Nat  didn't  take  my  money, 
and  then  we  could  be  partners  again.  I  don't  think  it 
will  happen,  but  I  will  give  him  a  chance,  and  keep  the 
place  open  a  little  longer." 

Billy  was  the  only  person  whom  Bangs  felt  he  could 
trust  in  his  shop,  and  Billy  was  trained  to  hunt  eggs, 
and  hand  them  over  unbroken,  being  quite  satisfied 
with  an  apple  or.  a  sugar-plum  for  wages.  The  morn- 


DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS.  245 

ing  after  Dan's  gloomy  Sunday,  Billy  said  to  his 
employer,  as  he  displayed  the  results  of  a  long  hunt  — 

"  Only  two." 

"  It  gets  worse  and  worse  ;  I  never  saw  such  provok- 
ing old  hens,"  growled  Tommy,  thinking  of  the  days 
when  he  often  had  six  to  rejoice  over.  "  Well,  put  'em 
in  my  hat  and  give  me  a  new  bit  of 'chalk ;  I  must  mark 
'em  up,  any  way." 

Billy  mounted  a  peck-measure,  and  looked  into  the 
top  of  the  machine,  where  Tommy  kept  his  writing 
materials. 

"  There  's  lots  of  money  in  here,"  said  Billy. 

"  No,  there  isn't.  Catch  me  leaving  my  cash  round 
again,"  returned  Tommy. 

"  I  see  'em  —  one,  four,  eight,  two  dollars,"  persisted 
Billy,  who  had  not  yet  mastered  the  figures  correctly. 

"  What  a  jack  you  are !  "  and  Tommy  hopped  up  to 
get  the  chalk  for  himself,  but  nearly  tumbled  down 
again,  for  there  actually  were  four  bright  quarters  in  a 
row,  with  a  bit  of  paper  on  them  directed  to  "  Tom 
Bangs,"  that  there  might  be  no  mistake. 

"  Thunder  turtles  !  "  cried  Tommy,  and  seizing  them 
he  dashed  into  the  house,  bawling  wildly,  "  It 's  all  right! 
Got  my  money  !  Where 's  Nat  ?  " 

He  was  soon  found,  and  his  surprise  and  pleasure 
were  so  genuine  that  few  doubted  his  word  when  he 
now  denied  all  knowledge  of  the  money. 

"How  could  I  put  it  back  when  I  didn't  take  it? 
Do  believe  me  now,  and  be  good  to  me  again,"  he  said, 
so  imploringly,  that  Emil  slapped  him  on  the  back,  and 
declared  he  would  for  one. 

"So  will  I,  and  I'm  jolly  glad  it's  not  you.    But 


246  LITTLE  MEN. 

who  the  dickens  is  it?"  said  Tommy,  after  shaking 
hands  heartily  with  Nat. 

"  Never  mind,  as  long  as  it 's  found,"  said  Dan,  with 
his  eyes  fixed  on  Nat's  happy  face. 

"  Well,  I  like  that !  I  'm  not  going  to  have  my  things 
hooked,  and"  then  brought  back  like  the  juggling  man's 
tricks,"  cried  Tommy,  looking  at  his  money  as  if  he 
suspected  witchcraft. 

"  We  '11  find  him  out  somehow,  though  he  was  sly 
enough  to  print  this  so  his  writing  wouldn't  be  known," 
said  Franz,  examining  the  paper. 

"  Demi  prints  tip-top,"  put  in  Rob,  who  had  not  a 
very  clear  idea  what  the  fuss  was  all  about. 

"  You  can't  make  me  believe  it 's  him,  not  if  you  talk 
till  you  are  blue,"  said  Tommy,  and  the  others  hooted 
at  the  mere  idea ;  for  the  little  deacon,  as  they  called 
him,  was  above  suspicion. 

Nat  felt  the  difference  in  the  way  they  spoke  of  Demi 
and  himself,  and  would  have  given  all  he  had  or  ever 
hoped  to  have,  to  be  so  trusted ;  for  he  had  learned  how 
easy  it  is  to  lose  the  confidence  of  others,  how  very,  very 
hard  to  win  it  back,  and  truth  became  to  him  a  precious 
thing  since  he  had  suffered  from  neglecting  it. 

Mr.  Bhaer  was  very  glad  one  step  had  been  taken  in 
the  right  direction,  and  waited  hopefully  for  yet  further 
revelations.  They  came  sooner  than  he  expected,  and 
in  a  way  that  surprised  and  grieved  him  very  much. 
As  they  sat  at  supper  that  night,  a  square  parcel  was 
handed  to  Mr.  Bhaer  from  Mrs.  Bates,  a  neighbor.  A 
note  accompanied  the  parcel,  and,  while  Mr»  Bhaer  read 
it,  Demi  pulled  off  the  wrapper,  exclaiming,  as  he  saw 
its  contents, — 


DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS.  247 

"Why,  it 's  the  book  Uncle  Teddy  gave  Dan ! " 

"  The  devil ! "  broke  from  Dan,  for  he  had  not  yet 
quite  cured  himself  of  swearing,  though  he  tried  hard. 

Mr.  Bhaer  looked  up  quickly  at  the  sound.  Dan 
tried:  to  meet  his  eyes,  but  could  not ;  his  own  fell,  and 
he  sat  biting  his  lips,  getting  redder  and  redder  till  he 
was  the  picture  of  shame. 

"  What  is  it  ?  "  asked  Mrs.  Bhaer,  anxiously. 

"  I  should  have  preferred  to  talk  about  this  in  private, 
but  Demi  has  spoilt  that  plan,  so  I  may  as  well  have  it 
out  now,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer,  looking  a  little  stern,  as  he 
always  did  when  any  meanness  or  deceit  came  up  for 
judgment. 

"  The  note  is  from  Mrs.  Bates,  and  she  says  that  her 
boy  Jimmy  told  her  he  bought  this  book  of  Dan  last 
Saturday.  She  saw  that  it  was  worth  much  more  than 
a  dollar,  and  thinking  there  was  some  mistake,  has  sent 
it  to  me.  Did  you  sell  it,  Dan  ?  " 

"  Yes,  sir,"  was  the  slow  answer. 

"Why?" 

"Wanted  money." 

"For  what?" 

"  To  pay  somebody." 

"  To  whom  did  you  owe  it  ?  " 

"  Tommy." 

"Never  borrowed  a  cent  of  me  in  his  life,"  cried 
Tommy,  looking  scared,  for  he  guessed  what  was  com- 
ing now,  and  felt  that  on  the  whole  he  would  have 
preferred  witchcraft,  for  he  admired  Dan  immensely. 

"  Perhaps  he  took  it,"  cried  Ned,  who  owed  Dan  a 
grudge  for  the  ducking,  and,  being  a  mortal  boy,  liked 
to  pay  it  off. 


248  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  O  Dan ! "  cried  Nat,  clasping  his  hands,  regardless 
of  the  bread  and  butter  in  them. 

"  It  is  a  hard  thing  to  do,  but  I  must  have  this  settled, 
for  I  cannot  have  you  watching  each  other  like  detec- 
tives, and  the  whole  school  disturbed  in  this  way.  Did 
you  put  that  dollar  in  the  barn  this  morning?"  asked 
Mr.  Bhaer. 

Dan  looked  him  straight  in  the  face,  and  answered 
steadily,  "Yes,  I  did." 

A  murmur  went  round  the  table,  Tommy  dropped  his 
mug  with  a  crash ;  Daisy  cried  out,  "  I  knew  it  wasn't 
Nat ; "  Nan  began  to  cry,  and  Mrs.  Jo  left  the  room, 
looking  so  disappointed,  sorry,  and  ashamed  that  Dan 
could  not  bear  it.  He  hid  his  face  in  his  hands  a  mo- 
ment, then  threw  up  his  head,  squared  his  shoulders  as 
if  settling  some  load  upon  them,  and  said,  with  the 
dogged  look,  and  half-resolute,  half-reckless  tone  he  had 
used  when  he  first  came  — 

"  I  did  it ;  now  you  may  do  what  you  like  to  me,  but 
I  won't  say  another  word  about  it." 

"  Not  even  that  you  are  sorry  ?  "  asked  Mr.  Bhaer, 
troubled  by  the  change  in  him. 

"  I  ain't  sorry." 

"  I  '11  forgive  him  without  asking,"  said  Tommy,  feel- 
ing that  it  was  harder  somehow  to  see  brave  Dan 
disgraced  than  timid  Nat. 

"  Don't  want  to  be  forgiven,"  returned  Dan,  gruffly. 

"  Perhaps  you  will  when  you  have  thought  about  it 
quietly  by  yourself.  I  won't  tell  you  now  how  sur- 
prised and  disappointed  I  am,  but  by  and  by  I  will 
come  up  and  talk  to  you  in  your  room." 

"  Won't  make  any  difference,"  said  Dan,  trying  to 


DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS.  249 

speak  defiantly,  but  foiling  as  lie  looked  at  Mr.  Bhaer's 
sorrowful  face;  and,  taking  his  words  for  a  dismis- 
sal, Dan  left  the  room,  as  if  he  found  it  impossible  to 
stay. 

If  would  have  done  him  good  if  he  had  stayed  ;  for 
the  boys  talked  the  matter  over  with  such  sincere 
regret,  and  pity,  and  wonder,  it  might  have  touched 
and  won  him  to  ask  pardon.  Ho  one  was  glad  to  find 
that  it  was  he,  not  even  Nat ;  for,  spite  of  all  his  faults, 
and  they  were  many,  every  one  liked  Dan  now,  because 
under  his  rough  exterior  lay  some  of  the  manly  virtues 
which  we  most  admire  and  love.  Mrs.  Jo  had  been  the 
chief  prop,  as  well  as  cultivator,  of  Dan  ;  and  she  took 
it  sadly  to  heart  that  her  last  and  most  interesting  boy 
had  turned  out  so  ill.  The  theft  was  bad,  but  the  lying 
about  it,  and  allowing  another  to  suffer  so  much  from 
an  unjust  suspicion,  was  worse;  and  most  discouraging 
of  all  was  the  attempt  to  restore  the  money  in  an  un- 
derhand way,  for  it  showed  not  only  a  want  of  courage, 
but  a  power  of  deceit  that  boded  ill  for  the  future. 
Still  more  trying  was  his  steady  refusal  to  talk  of  the 
matter,  to  ask  pardon,  or  express  any  remorse.  Days 
passed ;  and  he  went  about  his  lessons  and  his  work, 
silent,  grim,  and  unrepentant.  As  if  taking  warning 
by  their  treatment  of  Nat,  he  asked  no  sympathy  of  any 
one,  rejected  the  advances  of  the  boys,  and  spent  his 
leisure  hours  roaming  about  the  fields  and  woods, 
trying  to  find  playmates  in  the  birds  and  beasts,  and 
succeeding  better  than  most  boys  would  have  done, 
because  he  knew  and  loved  them  so  well. 

"  If  this  goes  on  much  longer,  I  'm  afraid  he  will  run 
away  again,  for  he  is  too  young  to  stand  a  life  like  this," 


250  LITTLE  MEN. 

s 

said  Mr.  Bhaer,  quite  dejected  at  the  failure  of  all  his 
efforts. 

"  A  little  while  ago  I  should  have  been  quite  sure 
that  nothing  would  tempt  him  away,  but  now  I  am  ready 
for  any  thing,  he  is  so  changed,"  answered  poor  "Mrs. 
Jo,  who  mourned  over  her  boy,  and  could  not  be  com- 
forted, because  he  shunned  her  more  than  any  one  else, 
and  only  looked  at  her  with  the  half-fierce,  half-implor- 
ing eyes  of  a  wild  animal  caught  in  a  trap,  when  she 
tried  to  talk  to  him  alone. 

Nat  followed  him  about  like  a  shadow,  and  Dan  did 
not  repulse  him  as  rudely  as  he  did  others,  but  said,  in 
his  blunt  way,  "  You  are  all  right ;  don't  worry  about 
me.  I  can  stand  it  better  than  you  did." 

"  But  I  don't  like  to  have  you  all  alone,"  Nat  would 
say,  sorrowfully. 

"  I  like  it ; "  and  Dan  would  tramp  away,  stifling  a 
sigh  sometimes,  for  he  teas  lonely. 

Passing  through  the  birch  grove  one  day,  he  came 
upon  several  of  the  boys,  who  were  amusing  them- 
selves by  climbing  up  the  trees  and  swinging  down 
again,  as  the  slender  elastic  stems  bent  till  their  tops 
touched  the  ground.  Dan  paused  a  minute  to  watch 
the  "fun,  without  offering  to  join  in  it,  and  as  he  stood 
there  Jack  took  his  turn.  He  had  unfortunately  chosen 
too  large  a  tree ;  for  when  he  swung  off,  it  only  bent  a 
little  way,  and  left  him  hanging  at  a  dangerous  height. 

"  Go  back ;  you  can't  do  it ! "  called  Ned  from  below. 

Jack  tried,  but  the  twigs  slipped  from  his  hands,  and 
he  could  not  get  his  legs  round  the  trunk.  He  kicked, 
and  squirmed,  and  clutched  in  vain,  then  gave  it  up, 
and  hung  breathless,  saying,  helplessly,* — 


DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS.  251 

"  Catch  me  !  help  me !     I  must  drop !  " 

"  You  '11  be  killed  if  you  do,"  cried  Ned,  frightened 
out«of  his  wits. 

"  Hold  on !  "  shouted  Dan ;  and  up  the  tree  he  went, 
crashing  his  way  along  till  he  nearly  reached  Jack, 
whose  face  looked  up  at  him,  full  of  fear  and  hope. 

"  You  '11  both  come  down,"  said  Ned,  dancing  with 
excitement  on  the  slope  underneath,  while  Nat  held  out 
his  arms,  in  the  wild  hope  of  breaking  the  fall. 

"  That 's  what  I  want ;  stand  from  under,"  answered 
Dan,  coolly;  and,  as  he  spoke,  his  added  weight  bent 
the  tree  many  feet  nearer  the  earth. 

Jack  dropped  safely ;  but  the  birch,  lightened  of  half 
its  load,  flew  up  again  so  suddenly,  that  Dan,  in  the  act 
of  swinging  round  to  drop  feet  foremost,  lost  his  hold 
and  fell  heavily. 

"  I  'm  not  hurt,  all  right  in  a  minute,"  he  said,  sitting 
up,  a  little  pale  and  dizzy,  as  the  boys  gathered  round 
him,  full  of  admiration  and  alarm. 

"  You  're  a  trump,  Dan,  and  I  'm  ever  so  much 
obliged  to  you,"  cried  Jack,  gratefully. 

"  It  wasn't  any  thing,"  muttered  Dan,  rising  slowly. 

"  I  say  it  was,  and  I  '11  shake  hands  with  you,  though 

you  are "  Ned  checked  the  unlucky  word  on  his 

tongue,  and  held  out  his  hand,  feeling  that  it  was  a 
handsome  thing  on  his  part. 

"But  I  won't  shake  hands  with  a  sneak;"  and  Dan 
turned  his  back  with  a  look  of  scorn,  that  caused  Ned 
to  remember  the  brook,  and  retire  with  undignified 
haste. 

"  Come  home,  old  chap  ;  I  '11  give  you  a  lift ;  "  and 
Nat  walked  away  with  him,  leaving  the  others  to  talk 


252  LITTLE  MEN. 

over  the  feat  together,  to  wonder  when  Dan  would 
"  come  round,"  and  to  wish  one  and  all  that  Tommy's 
"confounded  money  had  been  in  Jericho  before  it 
made  such  a  fuss." 

When  Mr.  Bhaer  came  into  school  next  morning,  he 
looked  so  happy,  that  the  boys  wondered  what  had 
happened  to  him,  and  reaUy  thought  he  had  lost  his 
mind  when  they  saw  him  go  straight  to  Dan,  and, 
taking  him  by  both  hands,  say  all  in  one  breath,  as  he 
shook  them  heartily,  — 

"  I  know  all  about  it,  and  I  beg  your  pardon.  It 
was  like  you  to  do  it,  and  I  love  you  for  it,  though  it 's 
never  right  to  tell  lies,  even  for  a  friend." 

"  What  is  it  ?  "  cried  Nat,  for  Dan  said  not  a  word, 
only  lifted  up  his  head,  as  if  a  weight  of  some  sort  had 
fallen  off  his  back. 

"  Dan  did  not  take  Tommy's  money ; "  and  Mr.  Bhaer 
quite  shouted  it,  he  was  so  glad. 

"  Who  did  ?  "  cried  the  boys  in  a  chorus. 

Mr.  Bhaer  pointed  to  one  empty  seat,  and  every  eye 
followed  his  finger,  yet  no  one  spoke  for  a  minute,  they 
were  so  surprised. 

"  Jack  went  home  early  this  morning,  but  he  left  this 
behind  him ; "  and  in  the  silence  Mr.  Bhaer  read  the 
note  which  he  had  found  tied  to  his  door-handle  when 
he  rose. 

"  I  took  Tommy's  dollar.  I  was  peeking  in  through 
a  crack,  and  saw  him  put  it  there.  I  was  afraid  to  tell 
before,  though  I  wanted  to.  I  didn't  care  so  much 
about  Nat,  but  Dan  is  a  trump,  and  I  can't  stand  it  any 
longer.  I  never  spent  the  money;  it's  under  the 
carpet  in  my  room,  right  behind  the  washstand.  I  'in 


DAMON  AND  PYTHIAS.  253 

awful  sorry.     I  am  going  home,  and  don't  think  I  shall, 
ever  come  back,  so  Dan  may  have  my  things. 

"  JACK." 

It  was  not  an  elegant  confession,  being  badly  written, 
much  blotted,  and  very  short;  but  it  was  a  precious 
paper  to  Dan ;  and,  when  Mr.  Bhaer  paused,  the  boy 
went  to  him,  saying,  in  rather  a  broken  voice,  but  with 
clear  eyes,  and  the  frank,  respectful  manner  they  had 
tried  to  teach  him  — 

"  I  '11  say  I  'm  sorry  now,  and  ask  you  to  forgive  me, 
sir." 

"  It  was  a  kind  lie,  Dan,  and  I  can't  help  forgiving  it ; 
but  you  see  it  did  no  good,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer,  with  a 
hand  on  either  shoulder,  and  a  face  full  of  relief  and 
aifection. 

"  It  kept  the  boys  from  plaguing  Nat.  That 's  what 
I  did  it  for.  It  made"  him  right  down  miserable.  I 
didn't  care  so  much,"  explained  Dan,  as  if  glad  to 
speak  out  after  his  hard  silence. 

"  How  could  you  do  it  ?  you  are  always  so  kind  to 
me,"  faltered  Nat,  feeling  a  strong  desire  to  hug  his- 
friend  and  cry.  Two  girlish  performances,  which 
would  have  scandalized  Dan  to  the  last  degree. 

"  It 's  all  right  now,  old  fellow,  so  don't  be  a  fool,"  he 
said,  swallowing  the  lump  in  his  throat,  and  laughing 
out  as  he  had  not  done  for  weeks.  "  Does  Mrs.  Bhaer 
know  ?  "  he  asked,  eagerly. 

"  Yes ;  and  she  is  so  happy  I  don't  know  what  she 
will  do  to  you,"  began  Mr.  Bhaer,  but  got  no  farther, 
for  here  the  boys  came  crowding  about  Dan  in  a  tumult 
of  pleasure  and  curiosity ;  but  before  he  had  answered 
more  thar*  a  dozen  questions,  a  voice  cried  out  — 


254  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Three  cheers  for  Dan ! "  and  there  was  Mrs.  Jo  in 
the  doorway  waving  her  dish-towel,  and  looking  as  if 
she  wanted  to  dance  a  jig  for  joy,  as  she  used  to  do 
when  a  girl. 

"  Now  then,"  cried  Mr.  Bhaer,  and  led  off  a  rousing 
hurrah,  which  startled  Asia  in  the  kitchen,  and  made 
old  Mr.  Roberts  shake  his  head  as  he  drove  by,  say- 
ing— 

"  Schools  are  not  what  they  were  when  I  was  young! " 

Dan  stood  it  pretty  well  for  a  minute,  but  the  sight 
of  Mrs.  Jo's  delight  upset  him,  and  he  suddenly  bolted 
across  the  hall  into  the  parlor,  whither  she  instantly 
followed,  and  neither  were  seen  for  half  an  hour. 

Mr.  Bhaer  found  it  very  difficult  to  calm  his  excited 
flock ;  and,  seeing  that  lessons  were  an  impossibility  for 
a  time,  he  caught  their  attention  by  telling  them  the 
fine  old  story  of  the  friends  whose  fidelity  to  one 
another  has  made  their  names  immortal.  The  lads 
listened  and  remembered,  for  just  then  their  hearts 
were  touched  by  the  loyalty  of  a  humbler  pair  of 
Mends.  The  lie  was  wrong,  but  the  love  that  prompted 
it  and  the  courage  that  bore  in  silence  the  disgrace 
which  belonged  to  another,  made  Dan  a  hero  in  their 
eyes.  Honesty  and  honor  had  a  new  meaning  now ;  a 
good  name  was  more  precious  than  gold ;  for  once  lost 
money  could  not  buy  it  back ;  and  faith  in  one  another 
made  life  smooth  and  happy  as  nothing  else  could  do. 

Tommy  proudly  restored  the  name  of  the  firm ;  Nat 
was  devoted  to  Dan ;  and  all  the  boys  tried  to  atone  to 
both  for  former  suspicion  and  neglect.  Mrs.  Jo  re- 
joiced over  her  flock,  and  Mr.  Bhaer  was  never  tired  of 
telling  the  story  of  his  young  Damon  and  Pythias. 


CHAPTER     XV. 
IN  THE   WILLOW. 

THE  old  tree  saw  and  heard  a  good  many  little 
scenes  and  confidences  that  summer,  because  it 
became  the  favorite  retreat  of  all  the  children,  and  the 
willow  seemed  to  enjoy  it,  for  a  pleasant  welcome 
always  met  them,  and  the  quiet  hours  spent  in  its  arms 
did  them  all  good.  It  had  a  great  deal  of  company 
one  Saturday  afternoon,  and  some  little  bird  reported 
what  went  on  there. 

First  came  Nan  and  Daisy  with  their  small  tubs  and 
bits  of  soap,  for  now  and  then  they  were  seized  with  a 
tidy  fit,  and  washed  up  all  their  dolls'  clothes  in  the 
brook.  Asia  would  not  have  them  "  slopping  round " 
in  her  kitchen,  and  the  bath-room  was  forbidden  since 
Nan  forgot  to  turn  oif  the  water  till  it  overflowed  and 
came  gently  dripping  down  through  the  ceiling.  Daisy 
went  systematically  to  work,  washing  first  the  white 
and  then  the  colored  things,  rinsing  them  nicely,  and 
hanging  them  to  dry  on  a  cord  fastened  from  one 
barberry-bush  to  another,  and  pinning  them  up  with  a 
set  of  tiny  clothes-pins  Ned  had  turned  for  her.  But 
Nan  put  all  her  little  things  to  soak  in  the  same  tub, 
and  then  forgot  them  while  she  collected  thistledown 


256  LITTLE  MEN. 

to  stuff  a  pillow  for  Semiramis,  Queen  of  Babylon,  as 
one  doll  was  named.  This  took  some  time,  and  when 
Mrs.  Giddy-gaddy  came  to  take  out  her  clothes,  deep 
green  stains  appeared  on  every  thing,  for  she  had  for- 
gotten the  green  silk  lining  of  a  certain  cape,  and  its 
color  had  soaked  nicely  into  the  pink  and  blue  gowns, 
the  little  chemises,  and  even  the  best  ruffled  petticoat. 

"  Oh  me !  what  a  mess ! "  sighed  Nan. 

"  Lay  them  on  the  grass  to  bleach,"  said  Daisy,  with 
an  air  of  experience. 

"  So  I  will,  and  we  can  sit  up  in  the  nest  and  watch 
that  they  don't  blow  away." 

The  Queen  of  Babylon's  wardrobe  was  spread  forth 
upon  the  bank,  and,  turning  up  their  tubs  to  dry,  the 
little  washerwomen  climbed  into  the  nest,  and  fell  to 
talking,  as  ladies  are  apt  to  do  in  the  pauses  of  domestic 
labor. 

"  I  'm  going  to  have  a  feather-bed  to  go  with  my  new 
pillow,"  said  Mrs.  Giddy-gaddy,  as  she  transferred  the 
thistledown  from  her  pocket  to  her  handkerchief  losing 
about  half  in  the  process. 

"  I  wouldn't ;  Aunt  Jo  says  feather-beds  aren't  healthy. 
I  never  let  my  children  sleep  on  any  thing  but  a  mat- 
tress," returned  Mrs.  Shakespeare  Smith,  decidedly. 

"  I  don't  care ;  my  children  are  so  strong  they  often 
sleep  on  the  floor,  and  don't  mind  it "  (which  was  quite 
true).  "  I  can't  afford  nine  mattresses,  and  I  like  to 
make  beds  myself." 

"Won't  Tommy  charge  for  the  feathers?" 

"May  be  he  will,  but  I  shan't  pay  him,  and  he  won't 
care,"  returned  Mrs.  G.,  taking  a  base  advantage  of  the 
well-known  good-nature  of  T.  Bangs. 


IN  THE  WILLOW.  257 

"  I  think  the  pink  will  fade  out  of  that  dress  sooner 
than  the  green  mark  will,"  observed  Mrs.  S.,  looking 
down  from  her  perch,  and  changing  the  subject,  for  she 
and  her  gossip  differed  on  many  points,  and  Mrs.  Smith 
was  a  discreet  lady. 

"Never  mind;  I'm  tired  of  dolls,  and  I  guess  I 
shall  put  them  all  away  and  attend  to  my  farm;  I 
like  it  rather  better  than  playing  house,"  said  Mrs. 
G.,  unconsciously  expressing  the  desire  of  many  older 
ladies,  who  cannot  dispose  of  their  families  so  easily 
however. 

"  But  you  mustn't  leave  them ;  they  will  die  without 
their  mother,"  cried  tender  Mrs.  Smith. 

"  Let  'em  die  then  ;  I  'm  tired  of  fussing  over  babies, 
and  I  'm  going  to  play  with  the  boys ;  they  need  me  to 
see  to  'em,"  returned  the  strong-minded  lady. 

Daisy  knew  nothing  about  woman's  rights ;  she  qui- 
etly took  all  she  wanted,  and  no  one  denied  her  claim, 
because  she  did  not  undertake  what  she  could  not 
carry  out,  but  unconsciously  used  the  all-powerful  right 
of  her  own  influence  to  win  from  others  any  privilege 
for  which  she  had  proved  her  fitness.  Nan  attempted 
all  sorts  of  things,  undaunted  by  direful  failures,  and 
clamored  fiercely  to  be  allowed  to  do  every  thing  that 
the  boys  did.  They  laughed  at  her,  hustled  her  out 
of  the  way,  and  protested  against  her  meddling  with 
their  affairs.  But  sjie  would  not  be  quenched  and  she 
would  be  heard,  for  her  will  was  strong,  and  she  had 
the  spirit  of  a  rampant  reformer.  Mrs.  Bhaer  sym- 
pathized with  her,  but  tried  to  curb  her  frantic  desire 
for  entire  liberty,  showing  her  that  she  must  wait  a 
little,  learn  self-control,  and  be  ready  to'  use  her  freedom 
17 


258  LITTLE  MEN. 

before  she  asked  for  it.  Nan  had  meek  moments  when 
she  agreed  to  this,  and  the  influences  at  work  upon  her 
were  gradually  taking  effect. .  She  no  longer  declared 
that  she  would  be  engine-driver  or  a  blacksmith,  but 
turned  her  mind  to  farming,  and  found  in  it  a  vent  for 
the  energy  bottled  up  in  her  active  little  body.  It  did 
not  quite  satisfy  her,  however ;  for  her  sage  and  sweet 
marjoram  were  dumb  things,  and  could  not  thank  her  for 
her  care.  She  wanted  something  human  to  love,  work 
for,  and  protect,  and  was  never  happier  than  wheH  the 
little  boys  brought  their  cut  fingers,  bumped  heads,  or 
bruised  joints  for  her  to  "  mend  up."  Seeing  this,  Mrs. 
Jo  proposed  that  she  should  learn  how  to  do  it  nicely, 
and  Nursey  had  an  apt  pupil  in  bandaging,  plastering, 
and  fomenting.  The  boys  began  to  call  her  "Dr. 
Giddy-gaddy,"  and  she  liked  it  so  well  that  Mrs.  Jo 
one  day  said  to  the  Professor  — 

"  Fritz,  I  see  what  we  can  do  for  that  child.  She 
wants  something  to  live  for  even  now,  and  will  be  one 
of  the  sharp,  strong,  discontented  women  if  she  does 
not  have  it.  Don't  let  us  snub  her  restless  little  nature, 
but  do  our  best  to  give  her  the  work  she  likes,  and  by 
and  by  persuade  her  father  to  let  her  study  medicine. 
She  will  make  a  capital  doctor,  for  she  has  courage, 
strong  nerves,  a  tender  heart,  and  an  intense  love  and 
pity  for  the  weak  and  suffering." 

Mr.  Bhaer  smiled  at  first,  but  agreed  to  try,  and  gave 
i^an  an  herb-garden,  teaching  her  the  various  healing 
properties  of  the  plants  she  tended,  and  letting  her  try 
their  virtues  on  the  children  in  the  little  illnesses  they 
had  from  time  to  time.  She  learned  fast,  remembered 
well,  and  showed  a  sense  and  interest  most  encouraging 


IN  THE  WILLOW.  259 

to  her  Professor,  who  did  not  shut  his  door  in  her  face 
because  she  was  a  little  woman. 

She  was  thinking  of  this,  as  she  sat  in  the  willow  that 
day,  and  when  Daisy  said  in  her  gentle  way  — 

"  I  love  to  keep  house,  and  mean  to  have  a  nice  one 
for  Demi  when  we  grow  up  and  live  together." 

Nan  replied  with  decision  — 

"  Well,  I  haven't  got  any  brother,  and  I  don't  want 
any  house  to  fuss  over.  I  shall  have  an  office,  with  lots 
of  bottles  and  drawers  and  pestle  things  in  it,  and  I 
shall  drive  round  in  a  horse  and  chaise  and  cure  sick 
people.  That  will  be  such  fun." 

"  Ugh !  how  can  you  bear  the  bad-smelling  stuff  and 
the  nasty  little  powders  and  castor-oil  and  senna  and 
hive  syrup  ?  "  cried  Daisy,  with  a  shudder. 

"  I  shan't  have  to  take  any,  so  I  don't  care.  Besides, 
they  make  people  well,  and  I  like  to  cure  folks."  Didn't 
my  sage-tea  make  Mother  Bhaer's  headache  go  away, 
and  my  hops  stop  Ned's  toothache  in  five  hours  ?  So 
now! ' 

"Shall  you  put  leeches  on  people,  and  cut  off  legs 
and  pull  out  teeth  ? "  asked  Daisy,  quaking  at  the 
thought. 

"  Yes,  I  shall  do  every  thing ;  I  don't  care  if  the  peo- 
ple are  all  smashed  up,  I  shall  mend  them.  My  grandpa 
was  a  doctor,  and  I  saw  him  sew  a  great  cut  in  a  man's 
cheek,  and  I  held  the  sponge,  and  wasn't  frightened  a 
bit,  and  Grandpa  said  I  was  a  brave  girl." 

"  How  could  you  ?  I  'm  sorry  for  sick  people,  and 
I  like  to  nurse  them,  but  it  makes  my  legs  shake  so  I 
have  to  run  away.  I'm  not  a  brave  girl,"  sighed 
Daisy. 


260  LITTLE  MEN. 

u  Well,  you  can  be  my  nurse,  and  cuddle  my  patients 
when  I  have  given  them  the  physic  and  cut  oft"  their 
legs,"  said  Nan,  whose  practice  was  evidently  to  be  of 
the  heroic  kind. 

"  Ship  ahoy !  Where  are  you,  Nan  ?  "  called  a  voice 
from  below. 

"  Here  we  are." 

"  Ay,  ay !  "  said  the  voice,  and  Emil  appeared  holding 
one  hand  in  the  other,  with  his  face  puckered  up  as  if 
in  pain. 

" Oh,  what's  the  matter?"  cried  Daisy,  anxiously. 

"  A  confounded  splinter  in  my  thumb.  Can't  get  it 
out.  Take  a  pick  at  it,  will  you,  Nanny  ?  " 

"  It 's  in  very  deep,  and  I  haven't  any  needle,"  said 
Nan,  examining  a  tarry  thumb  with  interest. 

"  Take  a  pin,"  said  Emil,  hi  a  hurry. 

"  No,  it 's  too  big  and  hasn't  got  a  sharp  point." 

Here  Daisy,  who  had  dived  into  her  pocket,  present- 
ed a  neat  little  housewife  with  four  needles  in  it. 

"  You  are*  the  Posy  who  always  has  what  we  want," 
said  Emil ;  and  Nan  resolved  to  have  a  needle-book  in 
her  own  pocket  henceforth,  for  just  such  cases  as  this 
were  always  occurring  in  her  practice. 

Daisy  covered  her  eyes,  but  Nan  probed  and  picked 
with  a  steady  hand,  while  Emil  gave  directions  not 
down  in  any  medical  work  or  record. 

"  Starboard  now  !  Steady,  boys,  steady !  Try  another 
tack.  Heave  ho  !  there  she  is ! " 

"  Suck  it,"  ordered  the  Doctor,  surveying  the  splinter 
with  an  experienced  eye. 

"  Too  dirty,"  responded  the  patient,  shaking  his  bleed- 
ing hand. 


IN  THE  WILLOW.  261 

"  Wait ;  I  '11  tie  it  up  if  you  have  got  a  handkerchief." 

"  Haven't ;  take  one  of  those  rags  down  there." 

"  Gracious !  no,  indeed ;  they  are  doll's  clothes,"  cried 
Daisy,  indignantly. 

"Take  one  of  mine;  I'd  like  to  have  you,"  said 
Nan ;  and  swinging  himself  down,  Emil  caught  up  the 
first  "  rag  "  he  saw.  It  happened  to  be  the  frilled  skirt ; 
but  Nan  tore  it  up  without  a  murmur ;  and  when  the 
royal  petticoat  was  turned  into  a  neat  little  bandage, 
she  dismissed  her  patient  with  the  command  — 

"  Keep  it  wet,  and  let  it  alone  ;  then  it  will  heal  right 
up,  and  not  be  sore." 

"What  do  you  charge?"  asked  the  Commodore, 
laughing. 

"  Nothing ;  I  keep  a  'spensary ;  that  is  a  place  where 
poor  people  are  doctored  free  gratis  for  nothing,"  ex- 
plained Nan,  with  an  air. 

"  Thank  you,  Doctor  Giddy-gaddy.  I  '11  always  call 
you  in  when  I  come  to  grief ;  "  and  Emil  departed,  but 
looked  back  to  say  —  for  one  good  turn  deserved  an- 
other —  "  Your  duds  are  blowing  away,  Doctor." 

Forgiving  the  disrespectful  word,  "  duds, "  the  ladies 
hastily  descended,  and,  gathering  up  their  wash,  retired 
to  the  house  to  fire  up  the  little  stove,  and  go  to 
ironing. 

A  passing  breath  of  air  shook  the  old  willow,  as  if  it 
laughed  softly  at  the  childish  chatter  which  went  on  in 
the  nest,  and  it  had  hardly  composed  itself  when  another 
pair  of  birds  alighted  for  a  confidential  twitter. 

"  Now,  I  '11  tell  you  the  secret,"  began  Tommy,  who 
was  "swellin'  wisibly"  with  the  importance  of  his 


262  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Tell  away,"  answered  Nat,  wishing  he  had  brought 
his  fiddle,  it  was  so  shady  and  quiet  here. 

"  Well,  we  fellows  were  talking  over  the  late  interest- 
ing case  of  circumstantial  evidence,"  said  Tommy,  quot- 
ing at  random  from  a  speech  Franz  had  made  at  the 
club,  "  and  I  proposed  giving  Dan  something  to  make 
up  for  our  suspecting  him,  to  show  our  respect,  and  so 
on,  you  know  —  something  handsome  and  useful,  that 
he  could  keep  always,  and  be  proud  of.  What  do  you 
think  we  chose  ?  " 

"  A  butterfly-net ;  he  wants  one  ever  so  much,"  said 
Nat,  looking  a  little  disappointed,  for  he  meant  to  get  it 
himself. 

"  No,  sir  ;  it 's  to  be  a  microscope,  a  real  swell  one, 
that  we  see  what -do -you -call -ems  in  water  with, 
and  stars,  and  ant-eggs,  and  all  sorts  of  games,  you 
know.  Won't  it  be  a  jolly  good  present  ?"  said  Tommy, 
rather  confusing  microscopes  and  telescopes  in  his 
remarks. 

"  Tip-top  !  I  'm  so  glad !  Won't  it  cost  a  heap, 
though  ?  "  cried  Nat,  feeling  that  his  friend  was  begin- 
ning to  be  appreciated. 

"  Of  course  it  will ;  but  we  are  all  going  to  give 
something.  I  headed  the  paper  with  my  five  dollars  ; 
for  if  it  is  done  at  all,  it  must  be  done  handsome." 

"  What !  all  of  it  ?  I  never  did  see  such  a  generous 
chap  as  you  are ; "  and  Nat  beamed  upon  him  with  sin- 
cere admiration. 

"  Well,  you  see,  I  Ve  been  so  bothered  with  my  prop- 
erty, that  I  'm  tired  of  it,  and  don't  mean  to  save  up 
any  more,  but  give  it  away  as  I  go  along,  and  then 
nobody  will  envy  me,  or  want  to  steal  it,  and  I  shan't  be 


IN  THE  WILLOW.  263 

suspecting  folks,  and  worrying  about  my  old  cash," 
replied  Tommy,  on  whom  the  cares  and  anxieties  of  a 
millionnaire  weighed  heavily. 

"  Will  Mr.  Bhaer  let  you  do  it?" 

"  He  thought  it  was  a  first-rate  plan,  and  said  that 
some  of  the  best  men  he  knew  preferred  to  do  good 
with  their  money,  instead  of  laying  it  up  to  be  squab- 
bled over  when  they  died." 

"  Your  father  is  rich  ;  does  he  do  that  way  ?  " 

"  I  'm  not  sure  ;  he  gives  me  all  I  want ;  I  know  that 
much.  I  'm  going  to  talk  to  him  about  it  when  I  go 
home.  Anyhow,  I  shall  set  him  a  good  example  ; "  and 
Tommy  was  so  serious,  that  Nat  did  not  dare  to  laugh, 
but  said,  respectfully,  — 

"  You  will  be  able  to  do  ever  so  much  with  your 
money,  won't  you?" 

"So  Mr.  Bhaer  said,  and  he  promised  to  advise  me 
about  useful  ways  of  spending  it.  I  'm  going  to  begin 
with  Dan ;  and  next  time  I  get  a  dollar  or  so,  I  shall  do 
something  for  Dick,  he 's  such  a  good  little  chap,  and 
only  has  a  cent  a  week  for  pocket-money.  He  can't 
earn  much,  you  know ;  so  I  'm  going  to  kind  of  sec  to 
him ; "  and  good-hearted  Tommy  quite  longed  to  begin. 

"  I  think  that 's  a  beautiful  plan,  and  I  'm  not  going 
to  try  to  buy  a  fiddle  any  more  ;  I  'm  going  to  get  Dan 
his  net  all  myself,  and  if  there  is  any  money  left,  I  '11  do 
something  to  please  poor  Billy.  He 's  fond  of  me,  and 
though  he  isn't  poor,  he  'd  like  some  little  thing  from 
me,  because  I  can  make  out  what  he  wants  better  than 
the  rest  of  you."  And  Nat  fell  to  wondering  how 
much  happiness  could  be  got  out  of  his  precious  three 
dollars. 


264  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  So  I  would.  Now  come  and  ask  Mr.  Bhaer  if  you 
can't  go  in  town  with  me  on  Monday  afternoon,  so  you 
can  get  the  net,  while  I  get  the  microscope.  Franz  and 
Emil  are  going  to,  and  we  '11  have  a  jolly  time  larking 
round  among  the  shops." 

The  lads  walked  away  arm-in-arm,  discussing  the 
new  plans  with  droll  importance,  yet  beginning  already 
to  feel  the  sweet  satisfaction  which  comes  to  those  who 
try,  no  matter  how  humbly,  to  be  earthly  providences 
to  the  poor  and  helpless,  and  gild  their  mite  with  the 
gold  of  charity  before  it  is  laid  up  where  thieves  cannot 
break  through  and  steal. 

"  Come  up  and  rest  while  we  sort  the  leaves ;  it 's  so 
cool  and  pleasant  here,"  said  Demi,  as  he  and  Dan  came 
sauntering  home  from  a  long  walk  in  the  woods. 

"  All  right ! "  answered  Dan,  who  was  a  boy  of  few 
words,  and  up  they  went. 

"What  makes  the  birch  leaves  shake  so  much  more 
than  the  others?"  asked  inquiring  Demi,  who  was 
always  sure  of  an  answer  from  Dan. 

"  They  are  hung  differently.  Don't  you  see  the  stem 
where  it  joins  the  leaf  is  sort  of  pinched  one  way,  and 
where  it  joins  the  twig,  it  is  pinched  another.  That 
makes  it  waggle  with  the  least  bit  of  wind,  but  the  elm 
leaves  hang  straight,  and  keep  stiller." 

"  How  curious !  will  this  do  so  ?  "  and  Demi  held  up 
a  sprig  of  acacia,  wrhich  he  had  broken  from  a  little 
tree  on  the  lawn,  because  it  was  so  pretty. 

"  No ;  that  belongs  to  the  sort  that  shuts  up  when 
you  touch  it.  Draw  your  finger  down  the  middle  of 
the  stem,  and  see  if  the  leaves  don't  curl  up,"  said  Dan, 
who  was  examining  a  bit  of  mica. 


IN  THE  WILLOW.  265 

Demi  tried  it,  and  presently  the  little  leaves  did  fold 
together,  till  the  spray  showed  a  single  instead  of  a 
double  line  of  leaves. 

"I  like  that;  tell  me  about  the  others.  What  do 
these  do?"  asked  Demi,  taking  up  a  new  branch. 

"  Feed  silk-worms ;  they  live  on  mulberry  leaves,  till 
they  begin  to  spin  themselves  up.  I  was  in  a  silk-fac- 
tory once,  and  there  were  rooms  full  of  shelves  all 
covered  with  leaves,  and  worms  eating  them  so  fast 
that  it  made  a  rustle.  Sometimes  they  eat  so  much 
they  die.  Tell  that  to  Stufly,"  and  Dan  laughed,  as  he 
took  up  another  bit  of  rock  with  a  lichen  on  it. 

"  I  know  one  thing  about  this  mullein  leaf:  the  fairies 
use  them  for  blankets,"  said  Demi,  who  had  not  quite 
given  up  his  faith  in  the  existence  of  the  little  folk  in 
green. 

"  If  I  had  a  microscope,  I  'd  show  you  something 
prettier  than  fairies,"  said  Dan,  wondering  if  he  should 
ever  own  that  coveted  treasure.  "  I  knew  an  old  woman 
who  used  mullein  leaves  for  a  night-cap  because  she  had 
face-ache.  She  sewed  them  together,  and  wore  it  all 
the  time." 

"  How  funny !  was  she  your  grandmother  ?  " 

"  Never  had  any.  She  was  a  queer  old  woman,  and 
lived  alone  in  a  little  tumble-down  house  with  nineteen 
cats.  Folks  called  her  a  witch,  but  she  wasn't,  though 
she  looked  like  an  old  rag-bag.  She  was  real  kind  to 
me  when  I  lived  in  that  place,  and  used  to  let  me  get 
warm  at  her  fire  when  the  folks  at  the  poorhouse  were 
hard  on  me." 

"  Did  you  live  in  a  poorhouse  ?  " 

"  A  little  while.    Never  mind  that— I  didn't  mean  to 


266  LITTLE  MEN. 

speak  of  it ; "  and  Dan  stopped  short  in  his  unusual  fit 
of  communicativeness. 

"  Tell  about  the  cats,  please,"  said  Demi,  feeling  that 
he  had  asked  an  unpleasant  question,  and  sorry  for  it. 

"  Nothing  to  tell ;  only  she  had  a  lot  of  'em,  and  kept 
'em  in  a  barrel  nights ;  and  I  used  to  go  and  tip  over 
the  barrel  sometimes,  and  let  'em  out  all  over  the  house, 
and  then  she  'd  scold,  and  chase  'em  and  put  'em  in 
again,  spitting  and  yowling  like  fury." 

"  Was  she  good  to  them  ?  "  asked  Demi,  with  a  hearty 
child's  laugh,  pleasant  to  hear. 

"  Guess  she  was.  Poor  old  soul !  she  took  in  all  the 
lost  and  sick  cats  in  the  town;  and  when  anybody 
wanted  one  they  went  to  Marm  Webber,  and  she  let 
'em  pick  any  kind  and  color  they  wanted,  and  only 
asked  ninepence,  —  she  was  so  glad  to  have  her  pussies 
get  a  good  home." 

"  I  should  like  to  see  Marm  Webber.  Could  I,  if  I 
went  to  that  place?" 

"  She 's  dead.     All  my  folks  are,"  said  Dan,  briefly. 

"  I  'm  sorry ; "  and  Demi  sat  silent  a  minute,  wonder- 
ing what  subject  would  be  safe  to  try  next.  He  felt 
delicate  about  speaking  of  the  departed  lady,  but  was 
very  curious  about  the  cats,  and  could  not  resist  asking 
softly  — 

"  Did  she  cure  the  sick  ones  ?  " 

"  Sometimes.  One  had  a  broken  leg,  and  she  tied  it 
up  to  a  stick,  and  it  got  well ;  and  another  had  fits,  and 
she  doctored  it  with  yarbs  till  it  was  cured.  But  some 
of  'em  died,  and  she  buried  'em ;  and  when  they  couldn't 
get  well,  she  killed  'em  easy." 

"  How  ? "  asked  Demi,  feeling  that  there  was  a  pe- 


IN  THE  WILLOW.  267 

culiar  charm  about  this  old  woman,  and  some  sort  of 
joke  about  the  cats,  because  Dan  was  smiling  to  himself. 

"  A  kind  lady,  who  was  fond  of  cats,  told  her  how, 
and  gave  her  some  stuff,  and  sent  all  her  own  pussies 
to  be  killed  that  way.  Marm  used  to  put  a  sponge,  wet 
with  ether,  in  the  bottom  of  an  old  boot,  then  poke 
puss  in  head  downwards.  The  ether  put  her  to  sleep 
in  a  jiffy,  and  she  was  drowned  in  warm  water  before 
she  woke  up." 

"I  hope  the  cats  didn't  feel  it.  I  shall  tell  Daisy 
about  that.  You  have  known  a  great  many  interesting 
things,  haven't  you  ?  "  asked  Demi,  and  fell  to  meditat- 
ing on  the  vast  experience  of  a  boy  who  had  run  away 
more  than  once,  and  taken  care  of  himself  in  a  big  city. 

"  Wish  I  hadn't  sometimes." 

"  Why  ?    Don't  remembering  them  feel  good  ?  " 

"No." 

"  It 's  very  singular  how  hard  it  is  to  manage  your 
mind,"  said  Demi,  clasping  his  hands  round  his  knees, 
and  looking  up  at  the  sky  as  if  for  information  upon  his 
favorite  topic. 

"  Devilish  hard  —  no,  I  don't  mean  that ; "  and  Dan 
bit  his  lips,  for  the  forbidden  word  slipped  out  in  spite 
of  him,  and  he  wanted  to  be  more  careful  with  Demi 
than  with  any  of  the  other  boys. 

"I'll  play  I  didn't  hear  it,"  said  Demi;  "and  you 
won't  do  it  again,  I  'm  sure." 

"Not  if  I  can  help  it.  That's  one  of  the  things  I 
don't  want  to  remember.  I  keep  pegging  away,  but  it 
don't  seem  to  do  much  good ; "  and  Dan  looked  dis- 
couraged. 

"Yes,  it  does.    You  don't  say  half  so  many  bad 


268  LITTLE  MEN. 

words  as  you  used  to ;  and  Aunt  Jo  is  pleased,  because 
she  said  it  was  a  hard  habit  to  break  up." 

"  Did  she  ?  "  and  Dan  cheered  up  a  bit. 

"  You  must  put  swearing  away  in  your  fault-drawer, 
and  lock  it  up ;  that 's  the  way  I  do  with  my  badness." 

"  What  do  you  mean  ?  "  asked  Dan,  looking  as  if'  he 
found  Demi  almost  as  amusing  as  a  new  sort  of  cock- 
chafer or  beetle. 

"  Well,  it 's  one  of  my  private  plays,  and  I  '11  tell  you, 
but  I  think  you'll  laugh  at  it,"  began  Demi,  glad  to 
hold  forth  on  this  congenial  subject.  "  I  play  that  my 
mind  is  a  round  room,  and  my  soul  is  a  little  sort  of 
creature  with  wings  that  lives  in  it.  The  walls  are  full 
of  shelves  and  drawers,  and  in  them  I  keep  my  thoughts, 
and  my  goodness  and  badness,  and  all  sorts  of  things. 
The  goods  I  keep  where  I  can  see  them,  and  the  bads 
I  lock  up  tight,  but  they  get  out,  and  I  have  to  keep 
putting  them  in  and  squeezing  them  down,  they  are  so 
strong.  The  thoughts  I  play  with  when  I  am  alone  or 
in  bed,  and  I  make  up  and  do  what  I  like  with  them. 
Every  Sunday  I  put  my  room  in  order,  and  talk  with 
the  little  spirit  that  lives  there,  and  tell  him  what  to  do. 
He  is  very  bad  sometimes,  and  won't  mind  me,  and  I 
have  to  scold  him,  and  take  him  to  Grandpa.  He  al- 
ways makes  him  behave,  and  be  sorry  for  his  faults, 
because  Grandpa  likes  this  play,  and  gives  me  nice 
things  to  put  in  the  drawers,  and  tells  me  how  to  shut 
up  the  naughties.  Hadn't  you  better  try  that  way  ? 
it 's  a  very  good  one ; "  and  Demi  looked  so  earnest  and 
full  of  faith,  that  Dan  did  not  laugh  at  his  quaint  fancy, 
but  said,  soberly, — 

"  I  don't  think  there  is  a  lock  strong  enough  to  keep 


THE  WILLOW.  269 

my  badness  shut  up.  Any  way  my  room  is  in  such  a 
clutter  I  don't  know  how  to  clear  it  up." 

"  You  keep  your  drawers  in  the  cabinet  all  spandy 
nice ;  why  can't  you  do  the  others  ?  " 

"  I  ain't  used  to  it.  Will  you  show  me  how  ?  "  and 
Dan  looked  as  if  inclined  to  try  Demi's  childish  way  of 
keeping  a  soul  in  order. 

"  I  'd  love  to,  but  I  don't  know  how,  except  to  talk 
as  Grandpa  does.  I  can't  do  it  good  like  him,  but  I  '11 
try." 

"  Don't  tell  any  one ;  only  now  and  then  we  '11  come 
here  and  talk  things  over,  and  I  '11  pay  you  for  it  by 
telling  all  I  know  about  my  sort  of  things.  Will  that 
do  ?  "  and  Dan  held  out  his  big,  rough  hand. 

Demi  gave  his  smooth,  little  hand  readily,  and  the 
league  was  made;  for  in  the  happy,  peaceful  world 
where  the  younger  boy  lived,  lions  and  lambs  played 
together,  and  little  children  innocently  taught  then* 
elders. 

"Hush!"  said  Dan,  pointing  toward  the  house,  as 
Demi  was  about  to  indulge  in  another  discourse  on  the 
best  way  of  getting  badness  down,  and  keeping  it 
down;  and  peeping  from  their  perch,  they  saw  Mrs. 
Jo  strolling  slowly  along,  reading  as  she  wTent,  while 
Teddy  trotted  behind  her,  dragging  a  little  cart  upside 
down. 

"  Wait  till  they  see  us,"  whispered  Demi,  and  both 
sat  still  as  the  pair  came  nearer,  Mrs.  Jo  so  absorbed  in 
her  book  that  she  would  have  walked  into  the  brook  if 
Teddv  had  not  stopped  her  by  saying  — 

"  Marmar,  I  wanter  fis." 

Mrs.  Jo  put  down  the  charming  book  which  she  had 


270  LITTLE  MEN. 

been  trying  to  read  for  a  week,  and  looked  about  her 
for  a  fishing-pole,  being  used  to  making  toys  out  of  noth- 
ing. Before  she  had  broken  one  from  the  hedge,  a 
slender  willow  bough  fell  at  her  feet ;  and,  looking  up, 
she  saw  the  boys  laughing  in  the  nest. 

"Up!  up!"  cried  Teddy,  stretching  his  arms  and 
flapping  his  skirts  as  if  about  to  fly. 

"  I  '11  come  down  and  you  come  up.  I  must  go  to 
Daisy  now ; "  and  Demi  departed  to  rehearse  the  tale 
of  the  nineteen  cats,  with  the  exciting  boot-and-barrel 
episodes. 

Teddy  was  speedily  whisked  up ;  and  then  Dan  said, 
laughing,  "  Come,  too ;  there 's  plenty  of  room.  I  '11 
lend  you  a  hand." 

Mrs.  Jo  glanced  over  her  shoulder,  but  no  one  was 
in  sight;  and,  rather  liking  the  joke  of  the  thing,  she 
laughed  back,  saying,  "  Well,  if  you  won't  mention  it, 
I  think  I  will ; "  and  with  two  nimble  steps  was  in  the 
willow. 

"I  haven't  climbed  a  tree  since  I  was  married.  I 
used  to  be  very  fond  of  it  when  I  was  a  girl,"  she  said, 
looking  well-pleased  with  her  shady  perch. 

"  Now,  you  read  if  you  want  to,  and  I  '11  take  care 
of  Teddy,"  proposed  Dan,  beginning  to  make  a  fishing- 
rod  for  impatient  Baby. 

"  I  don't  think  I  care  about  it  now.  What  were  you 
and  Demi  at  up  here  ?  "  asked  Mrs.  Jo,  thinking,  from 
the  sober  look  in  Dan's  face,  that  he  had  something  on 
his  mind. 

"  Oh !  we  were  talking.  I  'd  been  telling  him  about 
leaves  and  things,  and  he  was  telling  me  some  of  his 
queer  plays.  Now,  then,  Major,  fish  away;"  and  Dan 


IN  THE  WILLOW.  271 

finished  off  his  work  by  putting  a  big  blue  fly  on  the 
bent  pin  which  hung  at  the  end  of  the  cord  he  had 
tied  to  the  willow-rod. 

Teddy  leaned  down  from  the  tree,  and  was  soon 
wrapt  up  in  watching  for  the  fish  which  he  felt  sure 
would  come,  Dan  held  him  by  his  little  petticoats, 
lest  he  should  take  a  "header"  into  the  brook,  and 
Mrs.  Jo  soon  won  him  to  talk  by  doing  so  herself. 

"I  am  so  glad  you  told  Demi  about  'leaves  and 
things ; '  it  is  just  what  he  needs ;  and  I  wish  you  would 
teach  him,  and  take  him  to  walk  with  you. " 

"I  'd  like  to,  he  is  so  bright;  but"  — 

"But  what?" 

"  I  didn't  think  you  'd  trust  me." 

"Why  not?" 

*'Well,  Demi  is  so  kind  of  precious,  and  so  good, 
and  I'm  such  a  bad  lot,  I  thought  you'd  keep  him 
away  from  me." 

"  But  you  are  not  a  *  bad  lot,'  as  you  say ;  and  I  do 
trust  you,  Dan,  entirely,  because  you  honestly  try  to 
improve,  and  do  better  and  better  every  week." 

"  Really  ?  "  and  Dan  looked  up  at  her  with  the  cloud 
of  despondency  lifting  from  his  face. 

"  Yes ;  don't  you  feel  it  ?  " 

"  I  hoped  so,  but  I  didn't  know." 

"I  have  been  waiting  and  watching  quietly,  for  I 
thought  I  'd  give  you  a  good  trial  first ;  and  if  you 
stood  it,  I  would  give  you  the  best  reward  I  had.  You 
have  stood  it  well;  and  now  I'm  going  to  trust  not 
only  Demi,  but  my  own  boy,  to  you,  because  you  can 
teach  them  some  things  better  than  any  of  us." 

"  Can  I  ?  "  and  Dan  looked  amazed  at  the  idea. 


272  LITTLE  MEN. 

"Demi  has  lived  among  older  people  so  much  that 
he  needs  just  what  you  have- — knowledge  of  common 
things,  strength,  and  courage.  He  thinks  you  are  the 
bravest  boy  he  ever  saw,  and  admires  your  strong  way 
of  doing  things.  Then  you  know  a  great  deal  about 
natural  objects,  and  can  tell  him  more  wonderful  tales 
of  birds,  and  bees,  and  leaves,  and  animals,  than  his 
story-books  give  him ;  and,  being  true,  these  stories  will 
teach  and  do  him  good.  Don't  you  see  now  how  much 
you  can  help  him,  and  why  I  like  to  have  him  with 
you?" 

"  But  I  swear  sometimes,  and  might  tell  him  some- 
thing wrong.  I  wouldn't  mean  to,  but  it  might  slip 
out,  just  as  '  devil '  did  a  few  minutes  ago,"  said  Dan, 
anxious  to  do  his  duty,  and  let  her  know  his  short- 
comings. 

"  I  know  you  try  not  to  say  or  do  any  think  to  harm 
the  little  fellow,  and  here  is  where  I  think  Demi  will 
help  you,  because  he  is  so  innocent  and  wise  in  his 
small  way,  and  has  what  I  am  trying  to  give  you,  dear 
—  good  principles.  It  is  never  too  early  to  try  and 
plant  them  in  a  child,  and  never  too  late  to  cultivate 
them  in  the  most  neglected  person.  You  are  only  boys 
yet ;  you  can  teach  one  another.  Demi  will  uncon- 
sciously strengthen  your  moral  sense,  you  will  strengthen 
his  common  sense,  and  I  shall  feel  as  if  I  had  helped 
you  both." 

Words  could  not  express  how  pleased  and  touched 
Dan  was  by  this  confidence  and  praise.  No  one  had 
ever  trusted  him  before,  no  one  had  cared  to  find  out 
and  foster  the  good  in  him,  and  no  one  had  suspected 
how  much  there  was  hidden  away  in  the  breast  of  the 


IN  THE  WILLOW.  273 

neglected  boy,  going  fast  to  ruin,  yet  quick  to  feel  and 
value  sympathy  and  help.  No  honor  that  he  might 
earn  hereafter  would  ever  be  half  so  precious  as  the 
right  to  teach  his  few  virtues  and  his  small  store  of 
learning  to  the  child  whom  he  most  respected ;  and  no 
more  powerful  restraint  could  have  been  imposed  upon 
him  than  the  innocent  companion  confided  to  his  care. 
He  found  courage  now  to  tell  Mrs.  Jo  of  the  plan  al- 
ready made  with  Demi,  and  she  was  glad  that  the  first 
step  had  been  so  naturally  taken.  Every  thing  seemed 
working  well  for  Dan,  and  she  rejoiced  over  him,  be- 
cause it  had  seemed  a  hard  task,  yet,  working  on  with 
a  firm  belief  in  the  possibility  of  reformation  in  far 
older  and  worse  subjects  than  he,  there  had  come  this 
quick  and  hopeful  change  to  encourage  her.  He  felt 
that  he  had  friends  now  and  a  place  in  the  world,  some- 
thing to  live  and  work  for,  and,  though  he  said  little,  all 
that  was  best  and  bravest  in  a  character  made  old  by  a 
hard  experience  responded  to  the  love  and  faith  be- 
stowed on  him,  and  Dan's  salvation  was  assured. 

Their  quiet  talk  was  interrupted  by  a  shout  of  delight 
from  Teddy,  who,  to  the  surprise  of  every  one,  did  ac- 
tually catch  a  trout  where  no  trout  had  been  seen  for 
years.  He  was  so  enchanted  with  his  splendid  success 
that  he  insisted  on  showing  his  prize  to  the  family  be- 
fore Asia  cooked  it  for  supper ;  so  the  three  descended 
and  went  happily  away  together,  all  satisfied  with  the 
work  of  that  half  hour. 

Ned  was  the  next  visitor  to  the  tree,  but  he  only 

made  a  short  «tay,  sitting  there  at  his  ease  while  Dick 

and  Dolly  caught  a  pailful  of  grasshoppers  and  crickets 

for  him.    He  wanted  to  play  a  joke  on  Tommy,  and 

18 


274  LITTLE  MEN. 

intended  to  tuck  up  a  few  dozen  of  the  lively  creatures 
in  his  bed,  so  that  when  Bangs  got  in  he  would  speedily 
tumble  out  again,  and  pass  .a  portion  of  the  night  in 
chasing  "  hopper-grasses  "  round  the  room.  The  limit 
was  soon  over,  and  having  paid  the  hunters  with  a  few 
peppermints  apiece  Ned  retired  to  make  Tommy's  bed. 

For  an  hour  the  old  willow  sighed  and  sung  to  itself, 
talked  with  the  brook,  and  watched  the  lengthening 
shadows  as  the  sun  went  down.  The  first  rosy  color 
was  touching  its  graceful  branches  when  a  boy  came 
stealing  up  the  avenue,  across  the  lawn,  and,  spying 
Billy  by  the  brook-side,  went  to  him,  saying,  in  a  mys- 
terious tone, — 

"  Go  and  tell  Mr.  Bhaer  I  want  to  see  him  down  here, 
please.  Don't  let  any  one  hear." 

Billy  nodded  and  ran  on^  while  the  boy  swung  him- 
self up  into  the  tree,  and  sat  there  looking  anxious, 
yet  evidently  feeling  the  charm  of  the  place  and 
hour.  In  five  minutes  Mr.  Bhaer  appeared,  and, 
stepping  up  on  the  fence,  leaned  into  the  nest,  saying, 
kindly,  — 

"  I  am  glad  to  see  you,  Jack ;  but  why  not  come  in 
and  meet  us  all  at  once  ?." 

"  I  wanted  to  see  you  first,  please,  sir.  Uncle  made 
me  come  back.  I  know  I  don't  deserve  any  thing,  but 
I  hope  the  fellows  won't  be  hard  upon  me." 

Poor  Jack  did  not  get  on  very  well,  but  it  was  evident 
that  he  was  sorry  and  ashamed,  and  wanted  to  be  re- 
ceived as  easily  as  possible ;  for  his  Uncle  had  thrashed 
him  well  and  scolded  him  soundly  for  following  the  exam- 
ple he  himself  set.  Jack  had  begged  not  to  be  sent  back, 
but  the  school  was  cheap,  and  Mr.  Ford  insisted,  so  the 


IN  THE  WILLOW.  275 

boy  returned  as  quietly  as  possible,  and  took  refuge 
behind  Mr.  Bhaer. 

"  I  hope  not,  but  I  can't  answer  for  them,  though  I 
will  see  that  they  are  not  unjust.  I  think,  as  Dan  and 
Nat  have  suffered  so  much,  being  innocent,  you  should 
suffer  something,  being  guilty.  Don't  you?  "  asked  Mr. 
Bhaer,  pitying  Jack,  yet  feeling  that  he  deserved  punish- 
ment for  a  fault  which  had  so  little  excuse. 

"  I  suppose  so,  but  I  sent  Tommy's  money  back,  and 
I  said  I  was  sorry,  isn't  that  enough  ?  "  said  Jack,  rather 
sullenly  ;  for  the  boy  who  could  do  so  mean  a  thing  was 
not  brave  enough  to  bear  the  consequences  well. 

"  No ;  I  think  you  should  ask  pardon  of  all  three 
boys,  openly  and  honestly.  You  cannot  expect  them 
to  respect  and  trust  you  for  a  time,  but  you  can  live 
down  this  disgrace  if  you  try,  and  I  will  help  you. 
Stealing  and  lying  are  detestable  sins,  and  I  hope  this 
will  be  a  lesson  to  you.  I  am  glad  you  are  ashamed, 
it  is  a  good  sign ;  bear  it  patiently,  and  do  your  best  to 
earn  a  better  reputation." 

"  I  '11  have  an  auction,  and  sell  off  all  my  goods  dirt 
cheap,"  said  Jack,  showing  his  repentance  in  the  most 
characteristic  way. 

"  I  think  it  would  be  better  to  give  them  away,  and 
begin  on  a  new  foundation.  Take  'Honesty  is  the  best 
policy'  for  your  motto,  and  live  up  to  it  in  act,  and 
word/ and  thought,  and  though  you  don't  make  a  cent 
of  money  this  summer,  you  will  be  a  rich  boy  in  the 
autumn,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer,  earnestly. 

It  was  hard,  but  Jack  consented,  for  he  really  felt 
that  cheating  didn't  pay,  and  wanted  to  win  back  the 
friendship  of  the  boys.  His  heart  clung  to  his  posses- 


276  LITTLE  MEN. 

sions,  and  he  groaned  inwardly  at  the  thought  of  actu- 
ally giving  away  certain  precious  things.  Asking  pardon 
publicly  was  easy  compared  to  this ;  but  then  he  began 
to  discover  that  certain  other  things,  invisible,  but 
most  valuable,  were  better  property  than  knives,  fish- 
hooks, or  even  money  itself.  So  he  decided  to  buy  up 
a  little  integrity,  even  at  a  high  price,  and  secure  the 
respect  of  his  playmates,  though  it  was  not  a  salable 
article. 

"  Well,  I  '11  do  it,"  he  said,  with  a  sudden  air  of  reso- 
lution, which  pleased  Mr.  Bhaer. 

"Good!  and  I'll  stand  by  you.  Now  come  and 
begin  at  once." 

And  Father  Bhaer  led  the  bankrupt  boy  back  into 
the  little  world,  which  received  him  coldly  at  first,  but 
slowly  warmed  to  him,  when  he  showed  that  he  had 
profited  by  the  lesson,  and  was  sincerely  anxious  to  go 
into  a  better  business  with  a  new  stock-in-trade. 


CHAPTER    XVI. 
TAMING   THE    COLT. 

"T  T7HAT  in  the  world  is  that  boy  doing?"  said 
V  V  Mrs.  Jo  to  herself,  as  she  watched  Dan  run- 
ning round  the  half-mile  triangle  as  if  for  a  wager.  He 
was  all  alone,  and  seemed  possessed  by  some  strange 
desire  to  run  himself  into  a  fever,  or  break  his  neck ; 
for,  after  several  rounds,  he  tried  leaping  walls,  an$ 
turning  somersaults  up  the  avenue,  and  finally  dropped 
down  on  the  grass  before  the  door  as  if  exhausted. 

"  Are  you  training  for  a  race,  Dan  ?  "  asked  Mrs.  Jo, 
from  the  window  where  she  sat. 

He  looked  up  quickly,  and  stopped  panting  to  answer, 
with  a  laugh,  — 

"  No ;  I  'm  only  working  off  my  steam." 

"  Can't  you  find  a  cooler  way  of  doing  it  ?  You  will 
be  ill  if  you  tear  about  so  in  such  warm  weather,"  said 
Mrs.  Jo,  laughing  also,  as  she  threw  him  out  a  great 
palm-leaf  fan. 

"Can't  help  it.  I  must  run  somewhere,"  answered 
Dan,  with  such  an  odd  expression  in  his  restless  eyes, 
that  Mrs.  Jo  was  troubled,  and  asked,  quickly,  — 

"  Is  Plumfield  getting  too  narrow  for  you  ?  " 

"  I  wouldn't  mind  if  it  was  a  little  bigger.    I  like  it 


278  LITTLE  MEN. 

though ;  only  the  fact  is  the  devil  gets  into  me  some- 
times, and  then  I  do  want  to  bolt." 

The  words  seemed  to  come  against  his  will,  for  he 
looked  sorry  the  minute  they  were  spoken,  and  seemed 
to  think  he  deserved  a  reproof  for  his  ingratitude.  But 
Mrs.  Jo  understood  the  feeling,  and  though  sorry  to  see 
it  she  could  not  blame  the  boy  for  confessing  it.  She 
looked  at  him  anxiously,  seeing  how  tall  and  strong  he 
had  grown,  how  full  of  energy  his  face  was,  with  its 
eager  eyes  and  resolute  mouth ;  and  remembering  the 
utter  freedom  he  had  known  for  years  before,  she  felt 
how  even  the  gentle  restraint  of  this  home  would  weigh 
upon  him  at  times  when  the  old  lawless  spirit  stirred  in 
him.  "Yes,"  she  said  to  herself,  "my  wild  hawk  needs 
a  larger  cage ;  and  yet,  if  I  let  him  go,  I  am  afraid  he 
will  be  lost.  I  must  try  and  find  some  lure  strong 
enough  to  keep  him  safe." 

"  I  know  all  about  it,"  she  added,  aloud.  "  It  is  not 
'  the  devil,'  as  vou  ca^  it?  but  the  very  natural  desire 
of  all  young  people  for  liberty.  I  used  to  feel  just  so, 
and  once,  I  really  did  think  for  a  minute  that  I  would 
bolt." 

"  Why  didn't  you  ?  "  said  Dan,  coming  to  lean  on  the 
low  window-ledge,  with  an  evident  desire  to  continue 
the  subject. 

"  I  knew  it  was  foolish,  and  love  for  my  mother  kept 
me  at  home." 

"  I  haven't  got  any  mother,"  began  Dan. 

"  I  thought  you  had  now?  said  Mrs.  Jo,  gently  strok- 
ing the  rough  hair  off  his  hot  forehead. 

"  You  are  no  end  good  to  me,  and  I  can't  ever  thank 
you  enough,  but  it  isn't  just  the  same,  is  it  ?  "  and  Dan 


TAMING   THE  COLT.  279 

looked  up  at  her  with  a  wistful,  hungry  look  that  went 
to  her  heart. 

"  No,  dear,  it  is  not  the  same,  and  never  can  be.  I 
think  an  own  mother  would  have  been  a  great  deal  to 
you.  But  as  that  cannot  be,  you  must  try  to  let  me 
fill  her  place.  I  fear  I  have  not  done  all  I  ought,  or 
you  would  not  want  to  leave  me,"  she  added,  sorrow- 
fully. 

"  Yes,  you  have ! "  cried  Dan,  eagerly.  "  I  don't 
want  to  go,  and  I  won't  go,  if  I  can  help  it ;  but  every 
now  and  then  I  feel  as  if  I  must  burst  out  somehow. 
I  want  to  run  straight  ahead  somewhere,  to  smash 
something,  or  pitch  into  somebody.  Don't  know  why, 
but  I  do,  and  that 's  all  about  it." 

Dan  laughed  as  he  spoke,  but  he  meant  what  he  said, 
for  he  knit  his  black  brows,  and  brought  down  his  fist 
on  the  ledge  with  such  force,  that  Mrs.  Jo's  thimble  flew 
off  into  the  grass.  He  brought  it  back,  and  as  she  took 
it  she  held  the  big,  brown  hand  a  minute,  saying,  with  a 
look  that  showed  the  words  cost  her  something  — 

"  Well,  Dan,  run  if  you  must,  but  don't  run  far;  and 
come  back  to  me  soon,  for  I  want  you  very  much." 

He  was  rather  taken  aback  by  this  unexpected  per- 
mission to.  play  truant,  and  somehow  it  seemed  to  lessen 
his  desire  to  go.  He  did  not  understand  why,  but 
Mrs.  Jo  did,  and,  knowing  the  natural  perversity  of  the 
human  mind,  counted  on  it  to  help  her  now.  She  felt 
instinctively  that  the  more  the  boy  was  restrained  the 
more  he  would  fret  against  it ;  but  leave  him  free, 
and  the  mere  sense  of  liberty  would  content  him,  joined 
to  the  knowledge  that  his  presence  was  dear  to  those 
whom  he  loved  best.  It  was  a  little  experiment,  but  it 


280  LITTLE  MEN. 

succeeded,  for  Dan  stood  silent  a  moment,  uncon- 
sciously picking  the  fan  to  pieces  and  turning  the 
matter  over  in  his  mind.  He  felt  that  she  appealed  to 
his  heart  and  his  honor,  and  owned  that  he  understood 
it  by  saying  presently,  with  a  mixture  of  regret  and 
resolution  in  his  face,  — 

"  I  won't  go  yet  awhile,  and  I  '11  give  you  warning 
before  I  bolt.  That 's  fair,  isn't  it  ?  " 

"  Yes,  we  will  let  it  stand  so.  Now,  I  want  to  see  if 
I  can't  find  some  way  for  you  to  work  off  your  steam 
better  than  running  about  the  place  like  a  mad  dog, 
spoiling  my  fans,  or  fighting  with  the  boys.  What  can 
we  invent  ?  "  and  while  Dan  tried  to  repair  the  mischief 
he  had  done,  Mrs.  Jo  racked  her  brain  for  some  new 
device  to  keep  her  truant  safe  until  he  had  learned  to 
love  his  lessons  better. 

"  How  would  you  like  to  be  my  express-man  ? "  she 
said,  as  a  sudden  thought  popped  into  her  head. 

"  Go  into  town,  and  do  the  errands  ? "  asked  Dan, 
looking  interested  at  once. 

"  Yes ;  Franz  is  tired  of  it,  Silas  cannot  be  spared 
just  now,  and  Mr.  Bhaer  has  no  time.  Old  Andy  is  a 
safe  horse,  you  are  a  good  driver,  and  know  your  way 
about  the  city  as  well  as  a  postman.  Suppose  you  try 
it,  and  see  if  it  won't  do  most  as  well  to  drive  away  two 
or  three  times  a  week  as  to  run  away  once  a  month." 

"  I  'd  like  it  ever  so  much,  only  I  must  go  alone  and 
do  it  all  myself.  I  don't  want  any  of  the  other  fellows 
bothering  round,"  said  Dan,  taking  to  the  new  idea  so 
kindly  that  he  began  to  put  on  business  airs  already. 

"  If  Mr.  Bhaer  does  not  object  you  shall  have  it  all 
your  own  way.  I  suppose  Emil  will  growl,  but  he 


TAMING   THE   COLT.  281 

cannot  be  trusted  with  horses,  and  you  can.  By  the 
way,  to-morrow  is  market-day,  and  I  must  make  out  my 
list.  You  had  better  see  that  the  wagon  is  in  order, 
and  tell  Silas  to  have  the  fruit  and  vegetables  ready  for 
mother.  You  will  have  to  be  up  early  and  get  back  in 
time  for  school,  can  you  do  that  ?  " 

"I'm  always  an  early  bird,  so  I  don't  mind,"  and 
Dan  slung  on  his  jacket  with  despatch. 

"The  early  bird  got  the  worm  this  time,  I'm  sure," 
said  Mrs.  Jo,  merrily. 

"  And  a  jolly  good  worm  it  is,"  answered  Dan,  as  he 
went  laughing  away  to  put  a  new  lash  to  the  whip,  wash 
the  wagon,  and  order  Silas  about  with  all  the  importance 
of  a  young  express-man. 

"  Before  he  is  tired  of  this  I  will  find  something  else 
and  have  it  ready  when  the  next  restless  fit  comes  on," 
said  Mrs.  Jo  to  herself,  as  she  wrote  her  list  with  a  deep 
sense  of  gratitude  that  all  her  boys  were  not  Dans. 

Mr.  Bhaer  did  not  entirely  approve  of  the  new  plan, 
but  agreed  to  give  it  a  trial,  which  put  Dan  on  his 
mettle,  and  caused  him  to  give  up  certain  wild  plans  of 
his  own,  in  which  the  new  lash  and  the  long  hill  were  to 
have  borne  a  part.  He  was  up  and  away  very  early  the 
next  morning,  heroically  resisting  the  temptation  to  race 
with  the  milkmen  going  into  town.  Once  there,  he 
did  his  errands  carefully,  and  came  jogging  home  again 
in  time  for  school,  to  Mr.  Bhaer's  surprise  and  Mrs.  Jo's 
great  satisfaction.  The  Commodore  did  growl  at  Dan's 
promotion,  but  was  pacified  by  a  superior  padlock  to 
his  new  boat-house,  and  the  thought  that  seamen  were 
meant  for  higher  honors  than  driving  market-wagons 
and  doing  family  errands.  So  Dan  filled  his  new  office 


282  LITTLE  MEN. 

well  and  contentedly  for  weeks,  and  said  no  more  about 
bolting.  But  one  day  Mr.  Bhaer  found  him  pummelling 
Jack,  who  was  roaring  for  mercy  under  his  knee. 

"  Why,  Dan,  I  thought  you  had  given  up  fighting," 
he  said,  as  he  went  to  the  rescue. 

"  We  ain't  fighting,  we  are  only  wrestling,"  answered 
Dan,  leaving  off  reluctantly. 

"It  looks  very  much  like  it,  and  feels  like  it,  hey, 
Jack  ?  "  said  Mr.  Bhaer,  as  the  defeated  gentleman  got 
upon  his  legs  with  difficulty. 

"  Catch  me  wrestling  with  him  again.  He 's  most 
knocked  my  head  off,"  snarled  Jack,  holding  on  to  that 
portion  of  his  frame  as  if  it  really  was  loose  upon  his 
shoulders. 

"  The  fact  is,  we  began  in  fun,  but  when  I  got  him 
down  I  couldn't  help  pounding  him.  Sorry  I  hurt  you, 
old  fellow,"  explained  Dan,  looking  rather  ashamed  of 
himself. 

"  I  understand.  The  longing  to  pitch  into  somebody 
was  so  strong  you  couldn't  resist.  You  are  a  sort  of 
Berserker,  Dan,  and  something  to  tussle  with  is  as 
necessary  to  you  as  music  is  to  Nat,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer, 
who  knew  all  about  the  conversation  between  the  boy 
and  Mrs.  Jo. 

"  Can't  help  it.  So  if  you  don't  want  to  be  pounded 
you'd  better  keep  out  of  the  way,"  answered  Dan, 
with  a  warning  look  in  his  black  eyes  that  made  Jack 
sheer  off  in  haste. 

"  If  you  want  something  to  wrestle  with,  I  will  give 
you  a  tougher  specimen  than  Jack,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer; 
and,  leading  the  way  to  the  wood-yard,  he  pointed 
out  certain  roots  of  trees  that  had  been  grubbed  up 


TAMING   THE  COLT.  283 

in  the  spring,  and  had  been  lying  there  waiting  to 
be  split. 

"There,  when  you  feel  inclined  to  maltreat  the  boys, 
just  come  and  work  off  your  energies  here,  and  I  '11 
thank  you  for  it." 

"  So  I  will ; "  and,  seizing  the  axe  that  lay  near,  Dan 
hauled  out  a  tough  root,  and  went  at  it  so  vigorously, 
that  the  chips  flew  far  and  wide,  and  Mr.  Bhaer  fled 
for  his  life. 

To  his  great  amusement,  Dan  took  him  at  his  word, 
and  was  often  seen  wrestling  with  the  ungainly  knots, 
hat  and  jacket  off,  red  face,  and  wrathful  eyes ;  for  he 
got  into  royal  rages  over  some  of  his  adversaries,  and 
swore  at  them  under  his  breath  till  he  had  conquered 
them,  when  he  exulted,  and  marched  off  to  the  shed 
with  an  armful  of  gnarled  oak-wood  in  triumph.  He 
blistered  .his  hands,  tired  his  back,  and  dulled  the  axe, 
but  it  did  him  good,  and  he  got  more  comfort  out  of 
the  ugly  roots  than  any  one  dreamed,  for  with  each 
blow  he  worked  off  some  of  the  pent-up  power  that 
would  otherwise  have'  been  expended  in  some  less 
harmless  way. 

"  When  this  is  gone  I  really  don't  know  what  I  shall 
do,"  said  Mrs.  Jo  to  herself,  for  no  inspiration  came, 
and  she  was  at  the  end  of  her  resources. 

But  Dan  found  a  new  occupation  for  himself,  and 
enjoyed  it  some  time  before  any  one  discovered  the 
cause  of  his  contentment.  A  fine  young  horse  of  Mr. 
Laurie's  was  kept  at  Plumfield  that  summer,  running 
loose  in  a  large  pasture  across  the  brook.  The  boys 
were  all  interested  in  the  handsome,  spirited  creature, 
and  for  a  time  were  fond  of  watching  him  gallop  and 


284  LITTLE  MEN. 

frisk  with  his  plumey  tail  flying,  and  his  handsome 
head  in  the  air.  But  they  soon  got  tired  of  it,  and  left 
Prince  Charlie  to  himself.  All  but  Dan,  he  never  tired 
of  looking  at  the  horse,  and  seldom  failed  to  visit  him 
each  day  with  a  lump  of  sugar,  a  bit  of  bread,  or  an 
apple  to  make  him  welcome.  Charlie  was  grateful, 
accepted  his  friendship,  and  the  two  loved  one  another 
as  if  they  felt  some  tie  between  them,  inexplicable  but 
strong.  In  whatever  part  of  the  wide  field  he  might 
be,  Charlie  always  came  at  full  speed  when  Dan 
whistled  at  the  bars,  and  the  boy  was  never  happier 
than  when  the  beautiful,  fleet  creature  put  its  head  on 
his  shoulder,  looking  up  at  him  with  fine  eyes  full  of 
intelligent  affection. 

"  We  understand  one  another  without  any  palaver, 
don't  we,  old  fellow  ? "  Dan  would  say,  proud  of  the 
horse's  confidence,  and  so  jealous  of  his  regard,  that  he 
told  no  one  how  well  the  friendship  prospered,  and 
never  asked  anybody  but  Teddy  to  accompany  him  on 
these  daily  visits. 

Mr.  Laurie  came  now  and  then  to  see  how  Charlie 
got  on,  and  spoke  of  having  him  broken  to  harness  in 
the  autumn. 

"  He  won't  need  much  taming,  he  is  such  a  gentle, 
fine-tempered  brute.  I  shall  come  out  and  try  him 
with  a  saddle  myself  some  day,"  he  said,  on  one  of 
these  visits. 

"He  lets  me  put  a  halter  on  him,  but  I  don't  believe- 
he  will  bear  a  saddle  even  if  you  put  it  on,"  answered 
Dan,  who  never  failed  to  be  present  when  Charlie  and 
his  master  met. 

"  I  shall  coax  him  to  bear  it,  and  not  mind  a  few 


TAMING   THE  COLT.  285 

tumbles  at  first.  He  has  never  been  harshly  treated,  so, 
though  he  will  be  surprised  at  the  new  performances,*! 
think  he  won't  be  frightened,  and  his  antics  will  do  no 
harm." 

"  I  wonder  what  he  would  do,"  said  Dan  to  himself, 
as  Mr.  Laurie  went  away  with  the  Professor,  and 
Charlie  returned  to  the  bars,  from  which  he  had  retired 
when  the  gentlemen  came  up. 

A  daring  fancy  to  try  the  experiment  took  possession 
of  the  boy  as  he  sat  on  the  topmost  rail  with  the 
glossy  back  temptingly  near  him.  Never  thinking  of 
danger,  he  obeyed  the  impulse,  and  while  Charlie 
unsuspectingly  nibbled  at  the  apple  he  held,  Dan  quick- 
ly and  quietly  took  his  seat.  He  did  not  keep  it  long, 
however,  for  with  an  astonished  snort,  Charlie  reared 
straight  up,  and  deposited  Dan  on  the  ground.  The 
fall  did  not  hurt  him,  for  the  turf  was  soft,  and  he 
jumped  up,  saying,  with  a  laugh,  — 

"  I  did  it  any  way !  Come  here,  you  rascal,  and  I  '11 
try  it  again." 

But  Charlie  declined  to  approach,  and  Dan  left  him 
resolving  to  succeed  in  the  end ;  for  a  struggle  like  this 
suited  him  exactly.  Next  time  he  took  a  halter,  and 
having  got  it  on,  he  played  with  the  horse  for  a  while, 
leading  him  to  and  fro,  and  putting  him  through 
various  antics  till  he  was  a  little  tired ;  then  Dan  sat 
on  the  wall  and  gave  him  bread,  but  watched  his  chance, 
and  getting  a  good  grip  of  the  halter,  slipped  on  to  his 
back.  Charlie  tried  the  old  trick,  but  Dan  held  on, 
having  had  practice  with  Toby,  who  occasionally  had 
an  obstinate  fit,  and  tried  to  shake  off  his  rider. 
Charlie  was  both  amazed  and  indignant;  and  after 


286  LITTLE  MEN. 

prancing  for  a  minute,  set  off  at  a  gallop,  and  away 
went  Dan  heels  over  head.  If  he  had  not  belonged  to 
the  class  of  boys  who  go  through  all  sorts  of  dangers 
unscathed,  he  would  have  broken  his  neck  ;  as  it  was, 
he  got  a  heavy  fall,  and  lay  still  collecting  his  wits, 
while  Charlie  tore  round  the  field  tossing  his  head  with 
every  sign  of  satisfaction  at  the  discomfiture  of  his 
rider.  Presently  it  seemed  to  occur  to  him  that  some- 
thing was  wrong  with  Dan,  and,  being  of  a  magnani- 
mous nature,  he  went  to  see  what  the  matter  was.  Dan 
let  him  sniff,  about  and  perplex  himself  for  a  few 
minutes ;  then  he  looked  up  at  him,  saying,  as  decidedly 
as  if  the  horse  could  understand,  — 

"  You  think  you  have  beaten,  but  you  are  mistaken, 
old  boy ;  and  I  '11  ride  you  yet  —  see  if  I  don't." 

He  tried  no  more  that  day,  but  soon  after  attempted 
a  new  method  of  introducing  Charlie  to  a  burden.  He 
strapped  a  folded  blanket  on  his  back,  and  then  let  him 
race,  and  rear,  and  roll,  and  fume  as  much  as  he  liked. 
After  a  few  fits  of  rebellion  Charlie  submitted,  and  in  a 
few  days  permitted  Dan  to  mount  him,  often  stopping 
short  to  look  round,  as  if  he  said,  half  patiently,  half 
reproachfully,  "  I  don't  understand  it,  but  I  suppose  you 
mean  no  harm,  so  I  permit  the  liberty." 

Dan  patted  and  praised  him,  and  took  a  short  turn 
every  day,  getting  frequent  falls,  but  persisting  in  spite 
of  them,  and  longing  to  try  a  saddle  and  bridle,  but  not 
daring  to  confess  what  he  had  done.  He  had  his  wish, 
however,  for  there  had  been  a  witness  of  his  pranks  who 
said  a  good  word  for  him. 

"  Do  you  know  what  that  chap  has  ben  doin'  lately?  " 
asked  Silas  of  his  master,  one  evening,  as  he  received 
his  orders  for  the  next  day. 


TAMING   THE   COLT.  287 

"  Which  boy  ? "  said  Mr.  Bhaer,  with  an  air  of  res- 
ignation, expecting  some  sad  revelation. 

"  Dan,  he's  ben  a  breaking  the  colt,  sir,  and  I  wish  I 
may  die  if  he  ain't  done  it,"  answered  Silas,  chuckling. 

"  How  do  you  know  ?  " 

"  Wai,  I  kinder  keep  an  eye  on  the  little  fellers,  and 
most  gen'lly  know  what  they  're  up  to  ;  so  when  Dan 
kep  going  oif  to  the  paster,  and  coming  home  black  and 
blue,  I  mistrusted  that  sutliing  was  goin'  on.  I  didn't 
say  nothin',  but  I  crep  up  into  the  barn  chamber,  and 
from  there  I  see  him  goin'  through  all  manner  of  games 
with  Charlie.  Blest  if  he  warn't  throwed  time  and 
agin,  and  knocked  round  like  a  bag  o'  meal.  But  the 
pluck  of  the  boy  did  beat  all,  and  he  'peared  to  like  it, 
and  kep  on  as  ef  bound  to  beat." 

"  But,  Silas,  you  should  have  stopped  it  —  the  boy 
might  have  been  killed,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer,  wondering  what 
freak  his  irrepressibles  would  take  into  their  heads  next. 

"  S'pose  I  oughter ;  but  there  warn't  no  real  danger, 
for  Charlie  ain't  no  tricks,  and  is  as  pretty  a  tempered 
horse  as  ever  I  see.  Fact  was,  I  couldn't  bear  to  spile 
'sport,  for  ef  there's  any  thing  I  do  admire  it 's  grit,  and 
Dan  is  chock  full  on't.  But  now  I  know  he 's  hankerin' 
after  a  saddle,  and  yet  won't  take  even  the  old  one  on 
the  sly ;  so  I  just  thought  I  'd  up  and  tell,  and  may  be 
you  'd  let  him  try  what  he  can  do.  Mr.  Laurie  won't 
mind,  and  Charlie's  all  the  better  for  V 

"  We  shall  see ; "  and  off  went  Mr.  Bhaer  to  inquire 
into  the  matter. 

Dan  owned  up  at  once,  and  proudly  proved  that  Silas 
was  right  by  showing  off  his  power  over  Charlie ;  for 
by  dint  of  much  coaxing,  many  carrots,  and  infinite 


288  LITTLE  MEN. 

perseverance,  he  really  had  succeeded  in  riding  the  colt 
with  a  halter  and  blanket.  Mr.  Laurie  was  much 
amused,  and  well  pleased  with  Dan's  courage  and  skill, 
and  let  him  have  a  hand  in  all  future  performances ; 
for  he  set  about  Charlie's  education  at  once,  saying  that 
he  was  not  going  to  be  outdone  by  a  slip  of  a  boy. 
Thanks  to  Dan,  Charlie  took  kindly  to  the  saddle  and 
bridle  when  he  had  once  reconciled  himself  to  the  in- 
dignity of  the  bit ;  and  after  Mr.  Laurie  had  trained 
him  a  little,  Dan  was  permitted  to  ride  him,  to  the 
great  envy  and  admiration  of  the  other  boys. 

"  Isn't  he  handsome  ?  and  don't  he  mind  me  like  a 
lamb  ?  "  said  Dan  one  day  as  he  dismounted  and  stood 
with  his  arm  round  Charlie's  neck. 

"  Yes,  and  isn't  he  a  much  more  useful  and  agreeable 
animal  than  the  wild  colt  who  spent  his  days  racing 
about  the  field,  jumping  fences,  and  running  away  now 
and  then  ?  "  asked  Mrs.  Bhaer  from  the  steps  where  she 
always  appeared  when  Dan  performed  with  Charlie. 

"  Of  course  he  is.  See  he  won't  run  away  now,  even 
if  I  don't  hold  him,  and  he  comes  to  me  the  minute  1 
whistle ;  I  have  tamed  him  well,  haven't  I  ?  "  and  Dan 
looked  both  proud  and  pleased,  as  well  he  might,  for,  in 
spite  of  their  struggles  together,  Charlie  loved  him 
better  than  his  master. 

"  I  am  taming  a  colt  too,  and  I  think  I  shall  succeed 
as  well  as  you  if  I  am  as  patient  and  persevering,"  said 
Mrs.  Jo,  smiling  so  significantly  at  him,  that  Dan  un- 
derstood and  answered,  laughing,  yet  in  earnest,  — 

"  We  won't  jump  over  the  fence  and  run  away,  but 
stay  and  let  them  make  a  handsome,  useful  span  of  us, 
hey,  Charlie?" 


CHAPTER    XVII. 

COMPOSITION  DAY. 

URRY  up,  boys,  it 's  three  o'clock,  and  Uncle 
Fritz  likes  us  to  be  punctual,  you  know,"  said 
Franz  one  Wednesday  afternoon  as  a  bell  rang,*  and  a 
stream  of  literary-looking  young  gentlemen  with  books 
and  paper  in  their  hands  were  seen  going  toward  the 
museum. 

Tommy  was  in  the  school-room,  bending  over  his 
desk,  much  bedaubed  with  ink,  flushed  with  the  ardor 
of  inspiration,  and  in  a  great  hurry  as  usual,  for  easy- 
going Bangs  never  was  ready  till  the  very  last  minute. 
As  Franz  passed  the  door  looking  up  laggards,  Tommy 
gave  one  last  blot  and  flourish,  and  departed  out  of  the 
window  waving  his  paper  to  dry  it  as  he  went.  Nan 
followed,  looking  very  important,  with  a  large  roll  in 
her  hand,  and  Demi  escorted  Daisy,  both  evidently 
brimful  of  some  delightful  secret. 

The  museum  was  all  in  order,  and  the  sunshine 
among  the  hop-vines  made  pretty  shadows  on  the  'floor 
as  it  peeped  through  the  great  window.  On  one  side 
sat  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Bhaer,  on  the  other  was  a  little  table 
on  which  the  compositions  were  laid  as  soon  as  read, 
and  in  a  large  semicircle  sat  the  children  on  camp-stools, 
19 


290  LITTLE  MEN. 

which  occasionally  shut  up  and  let  the  sitter  down,  thus 
preventing  any  stiffness  in  the  assembly.  As  it  took 
too  much  time  to  have  all  read,  they  took  turns,  and 
on  this  Wednesday  the  younger  pupils  were  the  chief 
performers,  while  the  elder  ones  listened  with  conde- 
scension and  criticised  freely.  ' 

"  Ladies  first ;  so  Nan  may  begin,"  said  Mr.  Bhaer, 
when  the  settling  of  stools  and  rustling  of  papers  had 
subsided. 

Nan  took  her  place  beside  the  little  table,  and,  with 
a  preliminary  giggle,  read  the  following  interesting 
essay  on 

"THE  SPONGE. 

"  The  sponge,  my  friends,  is  a  most  useful  and  inter- 
esting plant.  It  grows  on  rocks  under  the  water,  and 
is  a  kind  of  sea-weed,  I  believe.  People  go  and  pick  it 
and  dry  it  and  wash  it,  because  little  fish  and  insects 
live  in  the  holes  of  the  sponge ;  I  found  shells  in  my 
new  one,  and  sand.  Some  are  very  fine  and  soft ;  ba- 
bies are  washed  with  them.  The  sponge  has  many  uses. 
I  will  relate  some  of  them,  and  I  hope  my  friends  will 
remember  what  I  say.  One  use  is  to  wash  the  face  ;  I 
don't  like  it  myself,  but  I  do  it  because  I  wish  to  be 
clean.  Some  people  don't,  and  they  are  dirty."  Here 
the  eye  of  the  reader  rested  sternly  upon  Dick  and 
Dolly,  who  quailed  under  it,  and  instantly  resolved  to 
scrub  themselves  virtuously  on  all  occasions.  "Another 
use  is  to  wake  people  up  ;  I  allude  to  boys  par-fa'c-u-lar- 
ly."  Another  pause  after  the  long  word  to  enjoy  the 
smothered  Faugh  that  went  round  the  room.  "  Some 
boys  do  not  get  up  when  called,  and  Mary  Ann  squeezes 


COMPOSITION  DAY.  291 

the  water  out  of  a  wet  sponge  on  their  faces,  and  it 
makes  them  so  mad  they  wake?  up."  Here  the  laugh 
broke  out,  and  Ernil  said,  as  if  he  had  been  hit,  — 

"  Seems  to  me  you  are  wandering  from  the  subject." 

"  No,  I  ain't ;  we  are  to  write  about  vegetables  or 
animals,  and  I'm  doing  both:  for  boys  are  animals, 
aren't  they  ?  "  cried  Nan ;  and,  undaunted  by  the  indig- 
nant "  No  ! "  shouted  at  her,  she  calmly  proceeded  — 

"  One  more  interesting  thing  is  done  with  sponges, 
and  this  is  when  doctors  put  ether  on  it,  and  hold  it  to 
people's  noseS  when  they  have  teeth  out.  I  shall  do 
this  when  I  am  bigger,  and  give  ether  to  the  sick,  so 
they  will  go  to  sleep  and  not  feel  me  cut  off  their  legs 
and  arms." 

"  I  know  somebody  who  killed  cats  with  it,"  called 
out  Demi,  but  was  promptly  crushed  by  Dan,  who  up- 
set his  camp-stool  and  put  a  hat  over  his  face. 

"  I  will  not  be  interruckted,"  said  Nan,  frowning  upon 
the  unseemly  scrimmagers.  Order  was  instantly  re- 
stored, and  the  young  lady  closed  her  remarks  as 
follows :  — 

"My  composition  has  three  morals,  my  friends." 
Somebody  groaned,  but  no  notice  was  taken  of  the  in- 
sult. "  First,  is  keep  your  faces  clean  —  second,  get  up 
early  —  third,  when  the  ether  sponge  is  put  over  your 
nose,  breathe  hard  and  don't  kick,  and  your  teeth  will 
come  out  easy.  I  have  no  more  to  say."  And  Miss 
Nan  sat  down  amid  tumultuous  applause. 

"  That  is  a  very  remarkable  composition ;  its  tone  is 
high,  and  there  is  a  good  deal  of  humor  in  it.  Very 
well  done,  Nan.  Now  Daisy,"  and  Mr.  Bhaer  smiled  at 
one  young  lady  as  he  beckoned  to  the  other. 


292  LITTLE  MEN. 

Daisy  colored  prettily  as  she  took  her  place,  and  said, 
in  her  modest  little  voice,  — 

"  I  'm  afraid  you  won't  like  mine ;  it  isn't  nice  and 
funny  like  Nan's.  But  I  couldn't  do  any  better." 

"  We  always  like  yours,  Posy,"  said  Uncle  Fritz,  and 
a  gentle  murmur  from  the  boys  seemed  to  confirm  the 
remark.  Thus  encouraged,  Daisy  read  her  little  paper, 
which  was  listened  to  with  respectful  attention. 

"THE  CAT. 

"  The  cat  is  a  sweet  animal.  I  love  thefti  very  much. 
They  are  clean  and  pretty,  and  catch  rats  and  mice,  and 
let  you  pet  them,  and  are  fond  of  you  if  you  are  kind. 
They  are  very  wise,  and  can  find  their  way  anywhere. 
Little  cats  are  called  kittens,  and  are  dear  things.  I  have 
two,  named  Huz  and  Buz,  and  their  mother  is  Topaz, 
because  she  has  yellow  eyes.  Uncle  told  me  a  pretty 
story  about  a  man  named  Ma-ho-met.  He  had  a  nice 
cat,  and  when  she  was  asleep  on  his  sleeve,  and  he 
wanted  to  go  away,  he  cut  off  the  sleeve  so  as  not  to 
wake  her  up.  I  think  he  was  a  kind  man.  Some  cats 
catch  fish." 

"  So  do  I ! "  cried  Teddy,  jumping  up  eager  to  tell 
about  his  trout. 

"  Hush !  "  said  his  mother,  setting  him  down  ngain  as 
quickly  as  possible,  for  orderly  Daisy  hated  to  be  "  in- 
terruckted  "  as  Nan  expressed  it. 

"I  read  about  one  who  used  to  do  it  very  slyly.  I 
tried  to  make  Topaz,  but  she  did  not  like  the  water,  and 
scratched  me.  She  does  like  tea,  and  when  I  play  in  my 
kitchen  she  pats  the  teapot  with  her  paw,  till  I  give  her 
some.  She  is  a  fine  cat^  she  eats  apple-pudding  and 
molasses.  Most  cats  do  not." 


COMPOSITION  DAY.  293 

"  That 's  a  first-rater,"  called  out  Nat,  and  Daisy  re- 
tired, pleased  with  the  praise  of  her  friend. 

"  Demi  looks  so  impatient  we  must  have  him  up  at 
once  or  he  won't  hold  out,"  said  Uncle  Fritz,  and  Demi 
skipped  up  with  alacrity. 

"  Mine  is  a  poem ! "  he  announced  in  a  tone  of 
triumph,  and  read  his  first  effort  in  a  loud  and  solemn 


"  I  write  about  the  butterfly, 

It  is  a«pretty  thing  ; 
And  flies  about  like  the  birds, 
But  it  does  not  sing. 

"  First  it  is  a  little  grub, 

And  then  it  is  a  nice  yellow  cocoon, 
And  then  the  butterfly 
Eats  its  way  out  soon. 

"  They  live  on  dew  and  honey, 

They  do  not  have  any  hive, 

They  do  not  sting  like  wasps,  and  bees,  and  hornets, 
And  to  be  as  good  as  they  are  we  should  strive. 

"  I  should  like  to  be  a  beautiful  butterfly,- 

All  yellow,  and  blue,  and  green,  and  red ; 
But  I  should  not  like 

To  have  Dan  put  camphor  on  my  poor  little  head." 

This  unusual  burst  of  genius  brought  down  the  house, 
and  Demi  was  obliged  to  •  read  it  again,  a  somewhat 
difficult  task,  as  there  was  no  punctuation  whatever, 
and  the  little  poet's  breath  gave  out  before  he  got  to 
the  end  of  *  some  of  the  long  lines. 

"  He  will  be  a  Shakspeare  yet,"  said  Aunt  Jo,  laugh- 
ing as  if  she  would  die,  for  this  poetic  gem  reminded 


294  LITTLE  MEN. 

her  of  one  of  her  own,  written  at  the  age  of  ten,  and 
beginning  gloomily  — 

"  I  wish  I  had  a  quiet  tomb, 

Beside  a  little  rill ; 

Where  birds,  and  bees,  and  butterflies, 
Would  sing  upon  the  hill." 

"  Come  on,  Tommy.  If  there  is  as  much  ink  inside 
your  paper  as  there  is  outside,  it  will  be  a  long  compo- 
sition," said  Mr.  Bhaer,  when  Demi  had  been  induced 
to  tear  himself  from  his  poem  and  sit  down. 

"  It  isn't  a  composition,  it's  a  letter.  You  see,  I  forgot 
all  about  its  being  my  turn  till  after  school,  and  then  I 
didn't  know  what  to  have,  and  there  wasn't  time  to  read 
up ;  so  I  thought  you  wouldn't  mind  my  taking  a  letter 
that  I  wrote  to  my  Grandma.  It 's  got  something  about 
birds  in  it,  so  I  thought  it  would  do." 

With  this  long  excuse,  Tommy  plunged  into  a  sea  of 
ink  and  floundered  through,  pausing  now  and  then  to 
decipher  one  of  his  own  flourishes. 

"MY  DEAR  GKAXDMA, —  I  hope  you  are  well.  Uncle 
James  sent  me  a  pocket  rifle.  It  is  a  beautiful  little  in- 
strument of  killing,  shaped  like  this —  [Here  Tommy 
dis] ilayed  a  remarkable  sketch  of  what  looked  like  an 
intricate  pump,  or  the  inside  of  a  small  steam-engine] 
—  44  are  the  sights ;  6  is  a  false  stock  that  fits  in  at 
A;  3  is  the  trigger,  and  2  is  the  cock.  It  loads  at 
the  breech,  and  fires  with  great  force  and  straightness. 
I  am  going  out  shooting  squirrels  soon.  I  shot  several 
fine  birds  for  the  museum.  They  had  speckled  breasts, 
and  Dan  liked  them  very  much.  He  stuffed  them  tip- 
top, and  they  sit  on  the  tree  quite  natural,  only  one 


COMPOSITION  DAY.  295 

looks  a  little  tipsy.  We  had  a  Frenchman  working 
here  the  other  day,  and  Asia  called  his  name  so  funnily 
that  I  will  tell  you  about  it.  His  name  was  Germain : 
first  she  called  him  Jerry,  but  we  laughed  at  her,  and 
she  changed  it  to  Jeremiah ;  but  ridicule  was  the  result, 
so  it  became  Mr.  Germany ;  but  ridicule  having  been 
again  resumed,  it  became  Garrymon,  which  it  has  re- 
mained ever  since.  I  do  not  write  often,  I  am  so  busy ; 
but  I  think  of  you  often,  and  sympathize  with  you,  and 
sincerely  hope  you  get  on  as  well  as  can  be  expected 
without  me.  —  Your  affectionate  grandson, 

"  THOMAS  BUCKMINSTEE  BANGS." 

"  P.S. —  If  you  come  across  any  postage-stamps,  re- 
member me. 

"  N.B.  —  Love  to  all,  and  a  great  deal  to  Aunt 
Almira.  Does  she  make  any  nice  plum-cakes  now  ? 

"P.S.  —  Mrs.  Bhaer  sends  her  respects. 

"  P.S.  — And  so  would  Mr.  B.  if  he  knew  I  was  in 
act  to  write. 

"  JV^.Z?.  —  Father  is  going  to  give  me  a  watch  on  my 
birthday.  I  am  glad,  as  at  present  I  have  no  means  of 
telling  time,  and  am  often  late  at  school. 

"P.S.  —  I  hope  to  see  you  soon.  Don't  you  wish  to 
send  for  me  ?  T.  B.  B." 

As  each  postscript  was  received  with  a  fresh  laugh 
from  the  boys,  by  the  time  he  came  to  the  sixth  and 
last,  Tommy  was  so  exhausted  that  he  was  glad  to  sit 
down  and  wipe  his  ruddy  face. 

"  I  hope  the  dear  old  lady  will  live  through  it,"  said 
Mr.  Bhaer,  under  cover  of  the  noise. 


296  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  We  won't  take  any  notice  of  the  broad  hint  given 
in  that  last  P.S.  The  letter  will  be  quite  as  much  as 
she  can  bear  without  a  visit  from  Tommy,"  answered 
Mrs.  Jo,  remembering  that  the  old  lady  usually  took  to 
her  bed  after  a  visitation  from  her  irrepressible  grand- 
son. 

"  Now,  me,"  said  Teddy,  who  had  learned  a  bit  of 
poetry,  and  was  so  eager  to  say  it  that  he  had  been 
bobbing  up  and  down  during  the  reading,  and  could 
no  longer  be  restrained. 

"  I  'm  afraid  he  will  forget  it  if  he  waits ;  and  I  have 
had  a  deal  of  trouble  in  teaching  him,"  said  his  mother. 

Teddy  trotted  to  the  rostrum,  dropped  a  curtsey  and 
nodded  his  head  at  the  same  time,  as  if  anxious  to  suit 
every  one;  then,  in  his  baby  voice,  and  putting  the 
emphasis  on  the  wrong  words,  he  said  his  verse  all  in 
one  breath :  — 

"  Little  drops  of  water, 

Little  drains  of  sand, 
Mate  a  mighty  okum  (ocean), 

And  a  peasant  land. 
Little  worts  of  kindness, 

Pokin  ewy  day, 
Make  a  home  a  hebbin, 

And  hep  us  on  a  way." 

Clapping  his  hands  at  the  end,  he  made  another 
double  salutation,  and  then  ran  to  hide  his  head  in  his 
mother's  lap,  quite  overcome  by  the  success  of  his 
"  piece,"  for  the  applause  was  tremendous. 

Dick  and  Dolly  did  not  -write,  but  were'  encouraged 
to  observe  the  habits  of  animals  and  insects,  and  re- 
port what  they  saw.  Dick  liked  this,  and  always  had 


COMPOSITION  DAY.  297 

a  great  deal  to  say ;  so,  when  his  name  was  called,  he 
marched  up,  and,  looking  at  the  audience  with  his  bright 
confiding  eyes,  told  his  little  story  so  earnestly  that  no 
one  smiled  at  his  crooked  body,  because  the  "  straight 
soul "  shone  through  it  beautifully. 

"I've  been  watching  dragonflies,  and  I  read  about 
them  in  Dan's  book,  and  I  '11  try  and  tell  you  what  I 
remember.  There 's  lots  of  them  flying  round  on  the 
pond,  all  blue,  with  big  eyes,  and  sort  of  lace  wings, 
very  pretty.  I  caught  one,  and  looked  at  him,  and  I 
think  he  was  the  handsomest  inseck  I  ever  saw.  They 
catch  littler  creatures  than  they  are  to  eat,  and  have  a 
queer  kind  of  hook  thing  that  folds  up  when  they  ain't 
hunting.  It  likes  the  sunshine,  and  dances  round  all 
day.  Let  me  see !  what  else  was  there  to  tell  about  ? 
Oh,  I  know !  The  eggs  are  laid  in  the  water,  and  go 
down  to  the  bottom,  and  are  hatched  in  the  mud.  Little 
ugly  things  come  out  of  'em ;  I  can't  say  the  name,  but 
they  are  brown,  and  keep  having  new  skins,  and  getting 
bigger  and  bigger.  Only  think!  it  takes  them  two 
years  to  be  a  dragonfly !  Now  this  is  the  curiousestf 
part  of  it,  so  you  listen  tight,  for  I  don't  believe  you 
know  it.  When  it  is  ready  it  knows  somehow,  and  the 
ugly,  grubby  thing  climbs  up  out  of  the  water  on  a  flag 
or  a  bulrush,  and  bursts  open  its  back." 

"  Come,  I  don't  believe  that,"  said  Tommy,  who  was 
not  an  observing  boy,  and  really  thought  Dick  was 
'"making  up." 

"It  does  burst  open  its  back,  don't  it?"  and  Dick 
appealed  to  Mr.  Bhaer,  who  nodded  a  very  decided 
affirmative,  to  the  little  speaker's  great  satisfaction. 

"  Well,  out  comes  the  dragonfly,  all  whole,  and  he 


298  LITTLE  MEN. 

sits  in  the  sun  —  sort  of  coming  alive,  you  know;  and 
he  gets  strong,  and  then  he  spreads  his  pretty  wings, 
and  flies  away  up  in  the  air,  and  never  is  a  grub  any 
more.  That 'sail  I  know;  but  I  shall  watch  and  try 
and  see  him  do  it,  for  I  think  it's  splendid  to  turn  into 
a  beautiful  dragonfly,  don't  you  ?  " 

Dick  had  told  his  story  well,  and,  when  he  described 
the  flight  of  the  new-born  insect,  had  waved  his  hands, 
and  looked  up  as  if  he  saw,  and  wanted  to  follow  it. 
Something  in  his  face  suggested  to  the  minds  of  the 
elder  listeners  the  thought  that  some  day  little  Dick 
would  have  his  wish,  and  after  years  of  helplessness 
and  pain  would  climb  up  into  the  sun  some  happy  day, 
and,  leaving  his  poor  little  body  behind  him,  find  a  new 
and  lovely  shape  in  a  fairer  world  than  this.  Mrs.  Jo 
drew  him  to  her  side,  and  said,  with  a  kiss  on  his  thin 
cheek,  — 

"  That  is  a  sweet  little  story,  dear,  and  you  remem- 
bered wonderfully  well.  I  shall  write  and  tell  your 
mother  all  about  it ; "  and  Dick  sat  on  her  knee,  con- 
tentedly smiling  at  the  praise,  and  resolving  to  watch 
well,  and  catch  the  dragonfly  in  the  act  of  leaving  its 
old  body  for  the  new,  and  see  how  he  did  it.  Dolly 
had  a  few  remarks  to  make  upon  the  "  Duck,"  and  made 
them  in  a  sing-song  tone,  for  he  had  learned  it  by  heart, 
and  thought  it  a  great  plague  to  do  it  at  all. 

"  Wild  ducks  are  hard  to  kill ;  men  hide  and  shoot  at 
them,  and  have  tame  ducks  to  quack  and  make  the  wild 
ones  come  where  the  men  can  fire  at  them.  They  have 
wooden  ducks  made  too,  and  they  sail  round,  and  the 
wild  ones  come  to  see  them;  they  are  stupid,  I  think. 
Our  ducks  are  very  tame.  They  eat  a  great  deal,  and 


COMPOSITION  DAY.  299 

go  poking  round  in  the  mud  and  water.  They  don't 
take  good  care  of  their  eggs,  but  let  them  spoil,  and  "  — 

"  Mine  don't ! "  cried  Tommy. 

"  Well,  some  people's  do ;  Silas  said  so.  Hens  take 
good  care  of  little  ducks,  only  they  don't  like  to  have 
them  go  in  the  water,  and  make  a  great  fuss.  But  the 
little  ones  don't  care  a  bit.  I  like  to  eat  ducks  with 
stuffing  in  them,  and  lots  of  apple-sauce." 

"  I  have  something  to  say  about  owls,"  began  Nat, 
who  had  carefully  prepared  a  paper  upon  this  subject 
with  some  help  from  Dan. 

"  Owls  have  big  heads,  round  eyes,  hooked  bills,  and 
strong  claws.  Some  are  gray,  some  white,  some  black 
and  yellowish.  Their  feathers  are  very  soft,  and  stick 
out  a  great  deal.  They  fly  very  quietly,  and  hunt 
bats,  mice,  little  birds,  and  such  things.  They  build 
nests  in  barns,  hollow  trees,  and  some  take  the  nests  of 
other  birds.  The  great  horned  owl  has  two  eggs 
bigger  than  a  hen's,  and  reddish  brown.  The  tawny 
owl  has  five  eggs,  white  and  smooth ;  and  this  is  the 
kind  that  hoots  at  night.  Another  kind  sounds  like  a 
child  crying.  They  eat  mice  and  bats  whole,  and  the 
parts  that  they  cannot  digest  they  make  into  little  balls 
and  spit  out." 

"  My  gracious !  how  funny ! "  Nan  was  heard  to 
observe. 

"  They  cannot  see  by  day ;  and  if  they  get  out  into 
the  light,  they  go  flapping  round  half  blind,  and  the 
other  birds,  chase  and  peck  at  them  as  if  they  were 
making  fun.  The  horned  owl  is  very  big,  'most  as  big 
as  the  eagle.  It  eats  rabbits,  rats,  snakes,  and  birds ; 
and  lives  in  rocks  and  old  tumble-down  houses.  They 


300  LITTLE  MEN. 

have  a  good  many  cries,  and  scream  like  a  person  being 
choked,  and  say,  'Waugh'O!  waugh  O!'  and  it  scares 
people  at  night  in  the  woods.  The  white  owl  lives  by 
the  sea,  and  in  cold  places,  and  looks  something  like 
a  hawk.  There  is  a  kind  of  owl  that  makes  holes  to 
live  in  like  moles.  It  is  called  the  burrowing  owl,  and 
is  very  small.  The  barn-owl  is  the  commonest  kind ; 
and  I  have  watched  one  sitting  in  a  hole  in  a  tree,  look- 
ing like  a  little  gray  cat,  with  one  eye  shut  and  the 
other  open.  He  comes  out  at  dusk,  and  sits  round 
waiting  for  the  bats.  I  caught  one,  and  here  he  is." 

With  that  Nat  suddenly  produced  from  inside  his 
jacket  a  little  downy  bird,  who  blinked  and  ruffled 
tip  his  feathers,  looking  very  plump  and  sleepy  and 
scared. 

"  Don't  touch  him !  He  is  going  to  show  off,"  said 
Nat,  displaying  his  new  pet  with  great  pride.  First  lie 
put  a  cocked  hat  on  the  bird's  head,  and  the  boys 
laughed  at  the  funny  effect;  then  he  added  a  pair  of 
paper  spectacles,  and  that  gave  the  owl  such  a  wise 
look  that  they  shouted  with  merriment.  The  per- 
formance closed  with  making  the  bird  angry,  and 
seeing  him  cling  to  a  handkerchief  upside  down, 
pecking  and  "clucking,"  as  Rob  called  it.  He  was 
allowed  to  fly  after  that,  and  settled  himself  on  the 
bunch  of  pine-cones  over  the  door,  where  he  sat  staring 
down  at  the  company  with  an  air  of  sleepy  dignity  that 
amused  them  very  much. 

"Have  you  any  thing  for  us,  George?"  asked  Mr. 
Bhaer,  when  the  room  was  still  again. 

"  Well,  I  read  and  learned  ever  so  much  about  moles, 
but  I  declare  I  'vc  forgotten  every  bit  of  it,  except  that 


COMPOSITION  DAY.  301 

they  dig  holes  to  live  in,  that  you  catch  them  by  pour- 
ing water  down,  and  that  they  can't  possibly  live 
without  eating  very  often;"  and  Stuffy  sat  down, 
wishing  he  had  not  been  too  lazy  to  write  out  his 
valuable  observations,  for  a  general  smile  went  round 
when  he  mentioned  the  last  of  the  three  facts  which 
lingered  in  his  memory. 

"  Then  we  are  done  for  to-day,"  began  Mr.  Bhaer, 
but  Tommy  called  out,  in  a  great  hurry,  — 

"No,  we  ain't.  Don't  you  know?  We  must  give 
the  thing ; "  and  he  winked  violently  as  he  made  an 
eye-glass  of  his  fingers. 

"Bless  my  heart,  I  forgot!  Now  is  your  time, 
Tom;"  and  Mr.  Bhaer  dropped  into  his  seat  again, 
while  all  the  boys  but  Dan  looked  mightily  tickled  at 
something. 

Nat,  Tommy,  and  Demi  left  the  room,  and  speedily 
returned  with  a  little  red  morocco  box  set  forth  in  state 
on  Mrs.  Jo's  best  silver  salver.  Tommy  bore  it,  and, 
still  escorted  by  Nat  and  Demi,  marched  up  to  unsus- 
pecting Dan,  who  stared  at  them  as  if  he  thought  they 
were  going  to  make  fun  of  him.  Tommy  had  prepared 
an  elegant  and  impressive  speech  for  the  occasion,  biijb 
when  the  minute  came,  it  all  went  out  of  his  head,  and 
he  just  said,  straight  from  his  kindly  boyish  heart,  — 

"  Here,  old  fellow,  we  all  wanted  to  give  you  some- 
thing to  kind  of  pay  for  what  happened  awhile  ago, 
and  to  show  how  much  we  liked  you  for  being  such 
a  trump.  Please  take  it,  and  have  a  jolly  good  time 
with  it." 

Dan  was  so  surprised  he  could  only  get  as  red  as  the 
little  box,  and  mutter  "  Thanky,  boys ! "  as  he  fumbled 


302  LITTLE  MEN. 

to  open  it.  But  when  he  saw  what  was  inside,  his  face 
lighted  up,  and  he  seized  the  long  desired  treasure, 
saying,  so  enthusiastically  that  every  one  was  satisfied, 
though  his  language  was  any  thing  but  polished,  — 

"What  a  stunner!  I  say,  you  fellows  are  regular 
bricks  to  give  me  this ;  it's  just  what  I  wanted.  Give 
us  your  paw,  Tommy." 

Many  paws  were  given,  and  heartily  shaken,  for  the 
boys  were  charmed  with  Dan's  pleasure,  and  crowded 
round  him  to  shake  hands  and  expatiate  on  the  beau- 
ties of  their  gift.  In  the  midst  of  this  pleasant  chatter, 
Dan's  eye  went  to  Mrs.  Jo,  who  stood  outside  the  group 
enjoying  the  scene  with  all  her  heart. 

"  No,  I  had  nothing  to  do  with  it.  The  boys  got  it 
up  all  themselves,"  she  said,  answering  the  grateful  look 
that  seemed  to  thank  her  for  that  happy  moment. 
Dan  smiled,  and  said,  in  a  tone  that  only  she  could 
understand,  — 

"It's  you  all  the  same;"  and  making  his  way  through 
the  boys,  he  held  out  his  hand  first  to  her  and  then  to 
the  good  Professor,  who  was  beaming  benevolently  on 
his  flock. 

.  He  thanked  them  both  with  the  silent,  hearty  squeeze 
he  gave  the  kind  hands  that  had  held  him  up  and  led 
him  into  the  safe  refuge  of  a  happy  home.  Not  a  word 
was  spoken,  but  they  felt  all  he  would  say,  and  little 
Teddy  expressed  their  pleasure  for  them  as  he  leaned 
from  his  father's  arm  to  hug  the  boy,  and  say,  in  his 
baby  way, — 

"My  dood  Danny! ^everybody  loves  him  now." 

u  Come  here,  show  off  your  spy-glass,  Dan,  and  let  us 
see  some  of  your  magnified  polly wogs  and  annymalcum- 


COMPOSITION  DAY.  303 

isms  as  you  call  'em,"  said  Jack,  who  felt  so  uncomfort- 
able during  this  scene  that  he  would  have  slipped  away 
if  Emil  had  not  kept  him. 

"  So  I  will,  take  a  squint  at  that  and  see  what  you 
think  of  it,"  said  Dan,  glad  to  show  off  his  precious 
microscope. 

He  held  it  over  a  beetle  that  happened  to  be  lying 
on  the  table,  and  Jack  bent  down  to  take  his  squint, 
but  looked  up  with  an  amazed  face,  saying, — 

"  My  eye !  what  nippers  the  old  thing  has  got !  I 
see  now  why  it  hurts  so  confoundedly  when  you  grab  a 
dorbug  and  he  grabs  back  again." 

"  He  winked  at  me,"  cried  Nan,  who  had  poked  her 
head  under  Jack's  elbow  and  got  the  second  peep. 

Every  one  took  a  look,  and  then  Dan  showed  them 
the  lovely  plumage  on  a  moth's  wing,  the  four  feathery 
corners  to  a  hair,  the  veins  on  a  leaf,  hardly  visible  to 
the  naked  eye,  but  like  a  thick  net  through  the  won- 
derful little  glass ;  the  skin  on  their  own  fingers,  looking 
like  queer  hills  and  valleys ;  a  cobweb  like  a  bit  of 
coarse  sewing  silk,  and  the  sting  of  a  bee. 

"  It 's  like  the  fairy  spectacles  in  my  story-book,  only 
more  curious,"  said  Demi,  enchanted  with  the  wonders 
he  saw. 

"  Dan  is  a  magician  now,  and  he  can  show  you  many 
miracles  going  on  all  round  you ;  for  he  has  two  things 
needful  —  patience  and  a  love  of  nature.  We  live  in  a 
beautiful  and  wonderful  world,  Demi,  and  the  more  you 
know  about  it  the  wiser  and  the  better  you  will  be. 
This  little  glass  will  give  you  a  new  set  of  teachers,  and 
you  may  learn  fine  lessons  from  them  if  you  will,"  said 
Mr.  Bliaer,  glad  to  see  how  interested  the  boys  were  in 
the  matter. 


304  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Could  I  sec  anybody's  soul  with  this  microscope  if  I 
looked  hard  ? "  asked  Demi,  who  was  much  impressed 
witli  the  power  of  the  bit  of  glass. 

"No,  dear;  it's  not  powerful  enough  for  that,  and 
never  can  be  made  so.  You  must  wait  a  long  while 
before  your  eyes  are  clear  enough  to  see  the  most  in- 
visible of  God's  wonders.  But  looking  at  the  lovely 
things  you  can  see  will  help  you  to  understand  the 
lovelier  things  you  can  not  see,"  answered  Uncle  Fritz, 
with  his  hand  on  the  boy's  head. 

"  Well,  Daisy  and  I  both  think  that  if  there  are  any 
angels,  their  wings  look  like  that  butterfly's  as  we  see 
it  through  the  glass,  only  more  soft  and  gold." 

"  Believe  it  if  you  like,  and  keep  yc*ir  own  little 
wings  as  bright  and  beautiful,  only  don't  fly  away  for  a 
long  time  yet." 

"  No,  I  won't,"  and  Demi  kept  his  word. 

"Good-by,  my  boys;  I  must  go  now,  but  I  leave 
you  with  our  new  Professor  of  Natural  History;"  and 
Mrs.  Jo  went  away  well  pleased  with  that  composition- 
day. 


CHAPTER    XVIII. 

CROPS. 

THE  gardens  did  well  that  summer,  and  in  Septem- 
ber the  little  crops  were  gathered  in  with  much 
rejoicing.  Jack  and  Ned  joined  their  farms  and  raised 
potatoes,  those  being  a  good  salable  article.  They  got 
twelve  bushels,  counting  little  ones  and  all,  and  sold 
them  to  Mr.  Bhaer  at  a  fair  price,  for  potatoes  went  fast 
in  that  house.  Emil  and  Franz  devoted  themselves  to 
corn,  and  had  a  jolly  little  husking  in  the  barn,  after 
which  they  took  their  corn  to  the  mill,  and  came 
proudly  home  with  meal  enough  to  supply  the  family 
with  hasty-pudding  and  Johnny-cake  for  a  long  time. 
They  would  not  take  money  for  their  crop ;  because,  as 
Franz  said,  "  We  never  can  pay  Uncle  for  all  he  has 
done  for  us  if  we  raised  corn  for  the  rest  of  our  days." 

Nat  had  beans  in  such  abundance  that  he  despaired 
of  ever  shelling  them,  till  Mrs.  Jo  proposed  a  new  way, 
which  succeeded  admirably.  The  dry  pods  were  spread 
upon  the  barn-floor,  Nat  fiddled,  and  the  boys  danced 
quadrilles  on  them,  till  they  were  thrashed  out  with 
much  merriment  and  very  little  labor. 

Tommy's  six  weeks'  beans  were  a  failure ;  for  a  dry 
spell  early  in  the  season  hurt  them,  because  he  gave  them 

20 


306  LITTLE  MEN. 

no  water;  and  after  that  he  was  so  sure  that  they  could 
take  care  of  themselves,  he  let  the  poor  things  struggle 
with  bugs  and  weeds  till  they  were  exhausted,  and  died  a 
lingering  death.  So  Tommy  had  to  dig  his  farm  over 
again,  and  plant  peas.  But  they  were  late ;  the  birds 
ate  many ;  the  bushes,  not  being  firmly  planted,  blew 
down,  and  when  the  poor  peas  came  at  last,  no  one 
cared  for  them,  as  their  day  was  over,  and  spring-lamb 
had  grown  into  mutton.  Tommy  consoled  himself 
with  a  charitable  effort ;  for  he  transplanted  all  the 
thistles  he  could  find,  and  tended  them  carefully  for 
Toby,  who  was  fond  of  the  prickly  delicacy,  and  had 
eaten  all  he  could  find  on  the  place.  The  boys  had 
great  fun  over  Tom's  thistle  bed  ;  but  he  insisted  that 
it  was  better  to  care  for  poor  Toby  than  for  himself, 
and  declared  that  he  would  devote  his  entire  farm  next 
year  to  thistles,  worms,  and  snails,  that  Demi's  turtles 
and  Nat's  pet  owl  might  have  the  food  they  loved,  as 
well  as  the  donkey.  So  like  shiftless,  kind-hearted,  hap- 
py-go-lucky Tommy ! 

Demi  had  supplied  his  grandmother  with  lettuce  all 
summer,  and  in  the  autumn  sent  his  grandfather  a  bas- 
ket of  turnips,  each  one  scrubbed  up  till  it  looked  like  a 
great  white  egg.  His  Grandma  was  fond  of  salad,  and 
one  of  his  Grandpa's  favorite  quotations  was  — 

"Lucullus,  whom  frugality  could  charm, 
Ate  roasted  turnips  at  the  Sabine  farm." 

Therefore  these  vegetable  offerings  to  the  dear  domes- 
tic god  and  goddess  were  affectionate,  appropriate,  and 
classical. 

Daisy  had  nothing  but   flowers  in  her  little  plot, 


CROPS.  307 

and  it  bloomed  all  summer  long  with  a  succession  of 
gay  or  fragrant  posies.  She  was  very  fond  of  her  gar- 
den, and  delved  away  in  it  at  all  hours,  watching  over 
her  roses,  and  pansies,  sweet-peas,  and  mignonette,  as 
faithfully  and  tenderly  as  she  did  over  her  dolls  or  her 
friends.  Little  nosegays  were  sent  into  town  on  all 
occasions,  and  certain  vases  about  the  house  were  her 
especial  care.  She  had  all  sorts  of  pretty  fancies  about  her 
flowers,  and  loved  to  tell  the  children  the  story  of  the 
pansy,  and  show  them  how  the  step-mother-leaf  sat  up 
in  her  green  chair  in  purple  and  gold ;  how  the  two  own 
children  in  gay  yellow  had  each  its  little  seat,  while  the 
step  children,  in  dull  colors,  both  sat  on  one  small 
stool,  and  the  poor  little  father,  in  his  red  nightcap,  was 
kept  out  of  sight  in  the  middle  of  the  flower ;  that  a 
monk's  dark  face  looked  out  of  the  monk's-hood  larks- 
pur ;  that  the  flowers  of  the  canary-vine  were  so  like 
dainty  birds  fluttering  their  yellow  wings,  that  one  al- 
most expected  to  see  them  fly  away,  and  the  snapdragons 
that  went  off  like  little  pistol-shots  when  you  cracked 
them.  Splendid  dollies  did  she  make  out  of  scarlet 
and  white  poppies,  with  ruffled  robes  tied  round  -the 
waist  with  grass  blade  sashes,  and  astonishing  hats  of 
coriopsis  on  their  green  heads.  Pea-pod  boats,  with 
rose-leaf  sails,  received  these  flower-people,  and  floated 
them  about  a  placid  pool  in  the  most  charming  style  ; 
for  finding  that  there  were  no  elves,  Daisy  made  her 
own,  and  lowed  the  fanciful  little  friends  who  played 
their  parts  in  her  summer-life. 

Nan  went  in  for  herbs,  and  had  a  fine  display  of  use- 
ful plants,  which  she  tended  with  steadily  increasing 
interest  and  care.  Very  busy  was  she  in  September 


308  LITTLE  MEN. 

cutting,  drying,  and  tying  up  her  sweet  harvest,  and 
writing  down  in  a  little  book  how  the  different  herbs  are 
to  be  used.  She  had  tried  several  experiments,  and  made 
several  mistakes ;  so  she  wished  to  be  particular  lest 
she  should  give  little  Huz  another  fit  by  administering 
wormwood  instead  of  catnip. 

Dick,  Dolly,  and  Rob  each  grubbed  away  on  his 
small  farm,  and  made  more  stir  about  it  than  all  the 
rest  put  together.  Parsnips  and  carrots  were  the  crops 
of  the  two  D.'s ;  and  they  longed  for  it  to  be  late  enough 
to  pull  up  the  precious  vegetables.  Dick  did  privately 
examine  his  carrots,  and  plant  them  again,  feeling  that 
Silas  was  right  in  saying  it  was  too  soon  for  them  yet. 

Rob's  crop  was  four  small  squashes  and  one  immense 
pumpkin.  It  really  was  a  "  bouncer,"  as  every  one  said  ; 
and  I  assure  you  that  two  small  persons  could  sit  on  it 
side  by  side.  It  seemed  to  have  absorbed  all  the  good- 
ness of  the  little  garden,  and  all  the  sunshine  that  shone 
down  on  it,  and  lay  there  a  great  round,  golden  ball,  full 
of  rich  suggestions  of  pumpkin-pies  for  weeks  to  come. 
Robby  was  so  proud  of  his  mammoth  vegetable  that  he 
took  every  one  to  see  it,  and,  when  frosts  began  to  nip, 
covered  it  up  each  night  with  an  old  bedquilt,  tucking  it 
round  as  if  the  pumpkin  was  a  well-beloved  baby.  The 
day  it  was  gathered  he  would  let  no  one  touch  it  but 
himself,  and  nearly  broke  his  back  tugging  it  to  the 
barn  in  his  little  wheelbarrow,  with  Dick  and  Dolly 
harnessed  in  front  to  give  a  .heave  up  the  path.  His 
mother  promised  him  that  the  Thanksgiving-pies  should 
be  made  from  it,  and  hinted  vaguely  that  she  had  a  plan 
in  her  head  which  would  cover  the  prize  pumpkin  and 
its  owner  with  glory. 


CROPS.  309 

Poor  Billy  had  planted  cucumbers,  but  unfortunately 
hoed  them  up  and  left  the  pig-weed.  This  mistake 
grieved  him  very  much  for  ten  minutes,  then  he  forgot 
all  about  it,  and  sowed  a  handful  of  bright  buttons 
which  he  had  collected,  evidently  thinking  in  his  feeble 
mind  that  they  were  money,  and  would  come  up  and 
multiply,  so  that  he  might  make  many  quarters,  as 
Tommy  did.  No  one  disturbed  him,  and  he  did  what 
he  liked  with  his  plot,  which  soon  looked  as  if  a  series 
of  small  earthquakes  had  stirred  it  up.  When  the 
general  harvest-day  came,  he  would  have  had  nothing 
but  stones  and  weeds  to  show,  if  kind  old  Asia  had  not 
hung  half  a  dozen  oranges  on  the  dead  tree  he  had 
stuck  up  in  the  middle.  Billy  was  delighted  with  his 
crop ;  and  no  one  spoiled  his  pleasure  in  the  little 
miracle  which  pity  wrought  for  him,  by  making  with- 
ered branches  bear  strange  fruit. 

Stuffy  had  various  trials  with  his  melons ;  for,  being 
impatient  to  taste  them,  he  had  a  solitary  revel  before 
they  were  ripe,  and  made  himself  so  ill,  that  for  a  day 
or  two  it  seemed  doubtful  if  he  would  ever  eat  any 
more".  But  he  pulled  through  it,  and  served  up  his  first 
cantelope  without  tasting  a  mouthful  himself.  They 
were  excellent  melons,  for  he  had  a  warm  slope  for 
them,  and  they  ripened  fast.  The  last  and  best  were 
lingering  on  the  vines,  and  Stuffy  had  announced  that 
he  should  sell  them  to  a  neighbor.  This  disappointed 
the  boys,  who  had  hoped  to  eat  tfye  melons  themselves, 
and  they  expressed  their  displeasure  in  a  new  and 
striking  manner.  Going  one  morning  to  gaze  upon 
the  three  fine  watermelons  which  he  had  kept  for  the- 
market,  Stuffy  was  horrified  to  find  the  word  "  PIG  " 


310  LITTLE  MEN. 

cut  in  white  letters  on  the  green  rind,  staring  at  him 
from  every  one.  He  was  in  a  great  rage,  and  flew  to 
Mrs.  Jo  for  redress.  Sh?  listened,  condoled  with  him, 
and  then  said  — 

"If  you  want  to  turn  the  laugh,  I'll  tell  you  how, 
but  you  must  give  up  the  melons." 

"Well,  I  will;  for  I  can't  thrash  all  the  boys,  but  I'd 
like  to  give  them  something  to  remember,  the  mean 
sneaks,"  growled  Stuffy,  still  in  a  fume. 

Now  Mrs.  Jo  was  pretty  sure  who  had  done  the 
trick,  for  she  had  seen  three  heads  suspiciously  near  to 
one  another  in  the  sofa-corner  the  evening  before  ;  and 
when  these  heads  had  nodded  with  chuckles  and 
whispers,  this  experienced  woman  knew  that  mischief 
was  afoot.  A  moonlight  night,  a  rustling  in  the  old 
cherry-tree  near  Emil's  window,  a  cut  on  Tommy's 
finger,  all  helped  to  confirm  her  suspicions ;  and  having 
cooled  Stuffy's  wrath  a  little,  she  bade  him  bring  his 
maltreated  melons  to  her  room,  and  say  not  a  word  to 
any  one  of  what  had  happened.  He  did  so,  and  the 
three  wags  were  amazed  to  find  their  joke  so  quietly 
taken.  It  spoilt  the  fun,  and  the  entire  disappearance 
of  the  melons  made  them  uneasy.  So  did  Stuffy's 
good-nature,  for  he  looked  more  placid  and  plump  than 
ever,  and  surveyed  them  with  an  air  of  calm  pity  that 
perplexed  them  much. 

At  dinner-time  they  discovered  why;  for  then 
Stuffy's  vengeance  fell  upon  them,  and  the  laugh  was 
turned  against  them.  When  the  pudding  was  eaten, 
and  the  fruit  was  put  on,  Mary  Ann  re-appeared  in  a 
high  state  of  giggle,  bearing  a  large  water-melon ; 
Silas  followed  with  another ;  and  Dan  brought  up  the 


CROPS.  311 

rear  with  a  third.  One  was  placed  before  each  of  the 
three  guilty  lads ;  and  they  read  on  the  smooth  green 
skin  this  addition  to  their  own  work,  "  With  the  com- 
pliments of  the  PIG."  Every  one  else  read  it  also,  and 
the  whole  table  was  in  a  roar,  for  the  trick  had  been 
whispered  about;  so  every  one  understood  the  sequel. 
Emil,  Ned,  and  Tommy  did  not  know  where  to  look, 
and  had  not  a  word  to  say  for  themselves;  so  they 
wisely  joined  in  the  laugh,  cut  up  the  melons,  and 
handed  them  round,  saying,  what  all  the  rest  agreed  to, 
that  Stuffy  had  taken  a  wise  and  merry  way  to  return 
good  for  evil. 

Dan  had  no  garden,  for  he  was  away  or  lame  the 
greater  part  of  the  summer ;  so  he  had  helped  Silas 
wherever  he  could,  chopped  wood  for  Asia,  and  tak- 
en care  of  the  lawn  so  well,  that  Mrs.  Jo  always 
had  smooth  paths  and  nicely  shaven  turf  before  her 
door. 

When  the  others  got  in  their  crops,  he  looked  sorry 
that  he  had  so  little  to  show ;  but  as  autumn  went  on, 
he  bethought  him  of  a  woodland  harvest  which  no  one 
would  dispute  with  him,  and  which  was  peculiarly  his 
own.  Every  Saturday  he  was  away  alone  to  forests, 
fields,  and  hills,  and  always  came  back  loaded  Avith 
spoils ;  for  he  seemed  to  know  the  meadows  where  the 
best  flag-root  grew,  the  thicket  where  the  sassafras  was 
spiciest,  the  haunts  where  the  squirrels  went  for  nuts, 
the  white  oak  whose  bark  was  most  valuable,  and  the 
little  gold-thread  vine  that  Nursey  liked  to  cure  the 
canker  with.  All  sorts  of  splendid  red  and  yellow 
leaves  did  Dan  bring  home  for  Mrs.  Jo  to  dress  her 
parlor  with,  —  graceful-seeded  grasses,  clematis  tassels, 


312  LITTLE  MEN. 

downy,  soft,  yellow  wax-work  berries,  and  mosses,  red- 
brimmed,  white,  or  emerald  green. 

"  I  need  not  sigh  for  the  woods  now,  because  Dan 
brings  the  woods  to  me,"  Mrs.  Jo  used  to  say,  as  she 
glorified  the  walls  with  yellow  maple  boughs  and  scar- 
let woodbine  wreaths,  or  filled  her  vases  with  russet 
ferns,  hemlock  sprays  full  of  delicate  cones,  and  hardy 
autumn  flowers ;  for  Dan's  crop  suited  her  well. 

The  great  garret  was  full  of  the  children's  little  stores, 
and  for  a  time  was  one  of  the  sights  of  the  house. 
Daisy's  flower  seeds  in  neat  little  paper  bags,  all  labelled, 
lay  in  the  drawer  of  a  three-legged  table.  Kan's  herbs 
hung  in  bunches  against  the  wall,  filling  the  air  with 
their  aromatic  breath.  Tommy  had  a  basket  of  thistle- 
down with  the  tiny  seeds  attached,  for  he  meant  to 
plant  them  next  year,  if  they  did  not  all  fly  away  before 
that  time.  Emil  had  bunches  of  pop-corn  hanging 
there  to  dry,  and  Demi  laid  up  acorns  and  different 
sorts  of  grain  for  the  pets.  But  Dan's  crop  made  the 
best  show,  for  fully  one  half  of  the  floor  was  covered 
with  the  nuts  he  brought.  All  kinds  were  there,  for  he 
ranged  the  woods  for  miles  round,  climbed  the  tallest 
trees,  and  forced  his  way  into  the  thickest  hedges  for 
his  plunder.  Walnuts,  chestnuts,  hazelnuts,  and  beech- 
nuts lay  in  separate  compartments,  getting  brown,  and 
dry,  and  sweet,  ready  for  winter  revels. 

There  was  one  butternut-tree  on  the  place,  and  Rob 
and  Teddy  called  it  theirs.  It  bore  well  this  year,  and 
the  great  dingy  nuts  came  dropping  down  to  hide 
among  the  dead  leaves,  where  the  busy  squirrels  found 
them  better  than  the  lazy  Bhaers.  Their  father  had 
told  them  (the  boys,  not  the  squirrels)  they  should  have 


CHOPS.  313 

the  nuts  if  they  would  pick  them  up,  but  no  one  was 
to  help.  It  was  easy  work,  and  Teddy  liked  it,  only 
he  soon  got  tired,  and  left  his  little  basket  half  full  for 
another  day.  But  the  other  day  was  slow  to  arrive, 
and,  meantime,  the  sly  squirrels  were  hard  at  work 
scampering  up  and  down  the  old  elm-trees  stowing  the 
nuts  away  till  their  holes  were  full,  then  all  about  in 
the  crotches  of  the  boughs,  to  be  removed  at  their  lei- 
sure. Their  funny  little  ways  amused  the  boys,  till  one 
day  Silas  said  — 

"Hev  you  sold  them  nuts  to  the  squirrels?" 

"  No,"  answered  Rob,  wondering  what  Silas  meant. 

"  Wai,  then,  you  'd  better  fly  round,  or  them  spry 
little  fellers  won't  leave  you  none." 

"  Oh,  we  can  beat  them  when  we  begin.  There  are 
such  lots  of  nuts  we  shall  have  a  plenty." 

"There  ain't  many  more  to  come  down,  and  they 
have  cleared 'the  ground  pretty  well,  see  if  they  hain't." 

Robby  ran  to  look,  and  was  alarmed  to  find  how  few 
remained.  He  called  Teddy,  and  they  worked  hard  all 
one  afternoon,  while  the  squirrels  sat  on  the  fence  and 
scolded. 

"  Now,  Ted,  we  must  keep  watch,  and  pick  up  just 
as  fast  as  they  fall,  or  we  shan't  have  more  than  a 
bushel,  and  every  one  will  laugh  at  us  if  we  don't." 

"  The  naughty  quillies  tarn't  have  'em.  I  '11  pick 
fast  and  run  and  put  'em  in  the  barn  twick,"  said  Teddy, 
frowning  at  little  Frisky,  who  chattered  and  whisked 
his  tail  indignantly. 

That  night  a  high  wind  blew  down  hundreds  of  nuts, 
and  when  Mrs.  Jo  came  to  wake  her  little  sons,  she 
said,  briskly, — 


314  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Come,  my  laddies,  the  squirrels  are  hard  at  it,  and 
you  will  have  to  work  well  to-day,  or  they  will  have 
every  nut  on  the  ground." 

"  No,  they  won't,"  and  Hobby  tumbled  up  in  a  great 
hurry,  gobbled  his  breakfast,  and  rushed  out  to  save  his 
property. 

Teddy  went  too,  and  worked  like  a  little  beaver,  trot- 
ting to  and  fro  with  full  and  empty  baskets.  Another 
bushel  was  soon  put  away  in  the  corn  barn,  and  they 
were  scrambling  among  the  leaves  for  more  nuts  when 
the  bell  rang  for  school. 

"  O  father !  let  me  stay  out  and  pick.  Those  horrid 
squirrels  will  have  my  nuts  if  you  don't.  I  '11  do  my 
lessons  by  and  by,"  cried  Rob,  running  into  the  school- 
room, flushed  and  tousled  by  the  fresh  cold  wind  and 
his  eager  work. 

"  If  you  had  been  up  early  and  done  a  little  every 
morning  there  would  be  no  hurry  now.  I  told  you 
that,  Rob,  and  you  never  minded.  I  cannot  have  the 
lessons  neglected  as  the  work  has  been.  The  squirrels 
will  get  more  than  their  share  this  year,  and  they  de- 
serve it,  for  they  have  worked  best.  You  may  go  an 
hour  earlier,  but  that  is  all,"  and  Mr.  Bhaer  led  Rob  to 
his  place,  where  the  little  man  dashed  at  his  books  as 
if  bent  on  making  sure  of  the  precious  hour  promised 
him. 

It  was  almost  maddening  to  sit  still  and  see  the  wind 
shaking  down  the  last  nuts,  and  the  lively  thieves  flying 
about,  pausing  now  and  then  to  eat  one  in  his  face,  and 
flirt  their  tails,  as  if  they  said,  saucily,  "We '11  have 
them  in  spite  of  you,  lazy  Rob."  The  only  thing  that 
sustained  the  poor  child  in  this  trying  moment  was  the 


CROPS.  315 

sight  of  Teddy  working  away  all  alone.  It  was  really 
splendid  the  pluck  and  perseverance  of  the  little  lad. 
He  picked  and  picked  till  his  back  ached ;  he  trudged 
to  and  fro  till  his  small  legs  were  tired ;  and  he  defied 
wind,  weariness,  and  wicked  "  quillies,"  till  his  mother 
left  her  work  and  did  the  carrying  for  him,  full  of  ad- 
miration for  the  kind  little  fellow  who  tried  to  help  his 
brother.  When  Rob  was  dismissed  he  found  Teddy 
reposing  in  the  bushel-basket  quite  used  up,  but  un- 
willing to  quit  the  field  ;  for  he  flapped  his  hat  at  the 
thieves  with  one  grubby  little  hand,  while  he  refreshed 
himself  with  the  big  apple  held  in  the  other. 

Rob  fell  to  work  and  the  ground  was  cleared  before 
two  o'clock,  the  nuts  safely  in  the  corn-barn  loft,  and 
the  weary  workers  exulted  in  their  success.  But  Frisky 
and  his  wife  were  not  to  be  vanquished  so  easily ;  and 
when  Rob  went  up  to  look  at  his  nuts  a  few  days  later 
he  was  amazed  to  see  how  many  had  vanished.  None 
of  the  boys  could  have  stolen  them,  because  the  door 
had  been  locked ;  the  doves  could  not  have  eaten  them, 
and  there  were  no  rats  about.  There  was  great  lamen- 
tation among  the  young  Bhaers  till  Pick  said  — 

"  I  saw  Frisky  on  the  roof  of  the  corn-barn,  may  be 
he  took  them." 

"I  know  he  did!  I'll  have  a  trap,  and  kill  him 
dead,"  cried  Rob,  disgusted  with  Frisky's  grasping 
nature. 

"  Perhaps,  if  you  watch,  you  can  find  out  where  he 
puts  them,  and  I  may  be  able  to  get  them  back  for  you," 
said  Dan,  who  was  much  amused  by  the  fight  between 
the  boys  and  squirrels. 

So  Rob  watched  and  saw  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Frisky  drop 


316  LITTLE  MEN. 

from  the  drooping  elm  boughs  on  to  the  roof  of  the 
corn-barn,  dodge  in  at  one  of  the  little  doors,  much  to 
the  disturbance  of  the  doves,  and  come  out  with  a  nut  in 
each  mouth.  So  laden  they  could  not  get  back  the 
way  they  came,  but  ran  down  the  low  roof,  along  the 
wall,  and  leaping  off  at  a  corner  they  vanished  a  minute 
and  re-appeared  without  their  plunder.  Rob  ran  to  the 
place,  and  in  a  hollow  under  the  leaves  found  a  heap 
of  the  stolen  property  hidden  away  to  be  carried  off  to 
the  holes  by  and  by. 

"Oh,  you  little  villains!  I  '11  cheat  you  now,  and  not 
leave  one,"  said  Rob.  So  he  cleared  the  corner  and  the 
corn-barn,  and  put  the  contested  nuts  in  the  garret, 
making  sure  that  no  broken  window-pane  could  any- 
where let  in  the  unprincipled  squirrels.  They  seemed 
to  feel  that  the  contest  was  over,  and  retired  to  their 
hole,  but  now  and  then  could  not  resist  throwing  down 
nut-shells  on  Rob's  head,  and  scolding  violently  as  if 
they  could  not  forgive  him  nor  forget  that  he  had  the 
best  of  the  battle. 

Father  and  Mother  Bhaer's  crop  was  of  a  different 
sort,  and  not  so  easily  described  ;  but  they  were  satis- 
fied with  it,  felt  that  their  summer  work  had  prospered 
well,  and  by  and  by  had  a  harvest  that  made  them  very 
happy. 


CHAPTER    XIX 

JOHN  BROOKE. 

"  T  T  7AKE  up,  Demi,  dear !  I  want  you." 

VV  "Why,  I've  just  gone  to  bed;  it  can't  be 
morning  yet ; "  and  Demi  blinked  like  a  little  owl  as 
he  waked  from  his  'first  sound  sleep. 

"  It 's  only  ten,  but  your  father  is  ill,  and  we  must  go 
to  him.  O  my  little  John !  my  poor  little  John  ! "  and 
Aunt  Jo  laid  her  head  down  on  the  pillow  with  a  sob 
that  scared  sleep  from  Demi's  eyes  and  filled  his  heart 
with  fear  and  wonder ;  for  he  dimly  felt  why  Aunt  Jo 
called  him  "  John,"  and  wept  over  him  as  if  some  loss 
had  come  that  left  him  poor.  He  clung  to  her  without 
a  word,  and  in  a  minute  she  was  quite  steady  again,  and 
said,  with  a  tender  kiss  as  she  saw  his  troubled  face,  — 

"  We  are  going  to  say  good-by  to  him,  my  darling, 
and  there  is  no  time  to  lose  ;  so  dress  quickly  and  come 
to  me  in  my  room.  I  must  go  to  Daisy." 

"  Yes,  I  will ; "  and  when  Aunt  Jo  was  gone,  little 
Demi  got  up  quietly,  dressed  as  if  in  a  dream,  and  leav- 
ing Tommy  fast  asleep  went  away  through  the  silent 
house,  feeling  that  something  new  and  sorrowful  was 
going  to  happen  —  something  that  set  him  apart  from 
the  other  boys  for  a  time,  and  made  the  world  seem  as 


318  LITTLE  MEN. 

dark  and  still  and  strange  as  those  familiar  rooms  did 
in  the  night.  A  carriage  sent  by  Mr.  Laurie  stood 
before  the  door.  Daisy  was  soon  ready,  and  the  brother 
and  sister  held  each  other  by  the  hand  all  the  way  into 
town,  as  they  drove  swiftly  and  silently  with  aunt  and 
uncle  through  the  shadowy  roads  to  say  good-by  to 
father. 

None  of  the  boys  but  Franz  and  Emil  knew  what 
had  happened,  and  when  they  came  down  next  morn- 
ing, great  was  their  wonderment  and  discomfort,  for 
the  house  seemed  forlorn  without  its  master  and  mis- 
tress. Breakfast  was  a  dismal  meal  with  no  cheery 
Mrs.  Jo  behind  the  teapots;  and  when  school-time 
came,  Father  Bhaer's  place  was  empty.  They  wan- 
dered about  in  a  disconsolate  kind  of  way  for  an  hour, 
waiting  for  news  and  hoping  it  would  be  all  right  witli 
Demi's  father,  for  good  John  Brooke  was  much  beloved 
by  the  boys.  Ten  o'clock  came,  and  no  one  arrived  to  re- 
lieve their  anxiety.  They  did  not  feel  like  playing,  yet 
the  time  dragged  heavily,  and  they  sat  about  listless 
and  sober.  All  at  once,  Franz  got  up,  and  said,  in  his 
persuasive  way,  — 

"  Look  here,  boys !  let 's  go  into  school  and  do  our 
lessons  just  as  if  Uncle  was  here.  It  will  make  the  day 
go  faster,  and  will  please  him,  I  know." 

"  But  who  will  hear  us  say  them  ?  "  asked  Jack. 

"I  will;  I  don't  know  much  more  than  you  do,  but 
I'm  the  oldest  here,  and  I'll  try  to  fill  Uncle's  place  till 
he  comes,  if  you  don't  mind." 

Something  in  the  modest,  serious  way  Franz  said  this 
impressed  the  boys,  for,  though  the  poor  lad's  eyes  were 
red  with  quiet  crying  for  Uncle  John  in  that  long  sad 


JOHN  BROOKE.  319 

night,  there  was  a  new  manliness  about  him,  as  if  he  had 
already  begun  to  feel  the  cares  and  troubles  of  life,  and 
tried  to  take  them  bravely. 

"  I  will,  for  one,"  and  Emil  went  to  his  seat,  remem- 
bering that  obedience  to  his  superior  officer  is  a  sea- 
man's first  duty. 

The  others  followed ;  Franz  took  his  uncle's  seat,  and 
for  an  hour  order  reigned.  Lessons  were  learned  and 
said,  and  Franz  made  a  patient,  pleasant  teacher,  wisely 
omitting  such  lessons  as  he  was  not  equal  to,  and  keep- 
ing order  more  by  the  unconscious  dignity  that  sorrow 
gave  him  than  by  any  words  of  his  own.  The  little 
boys  were  reading  when  a  step  was  heard  in  the  hall, 
and  every  one  looked  up  to  read  the  news  in  Mr. 
Bhaer's  face  as  he  came  in.  The  kind  face  told  them 
instantly  that  Demi  had  no  father  now,  for  it  was  worn 
and  pale,  and  full  of  tender  grief,  which  left  him  no 
words  with  which  to  answer  Rob,  as  he  ran  to  him  say- 
ing, reproachfully,  — 

"  What  made  you  go  and  leave  me  in  the  night, 
papa  ?  " 

The  memory  of  the  other  father  who  had  left  his  chil- 
dren in  the  night,  never  to  return,  made  Mr.  Bliaer 
hold  his  own  boy  close,  and,  for  a  minute,  hide  his  face 
in  Robby's  curly  hair.  Emil  laid  his  head  down  on  his 
arms,  Franz  went  to  put  his  hand  on  his  uncle's 
shoulder,  his  boyish  face  pale  with  sympathy  and 
SOITOW,  and  the  others  sat  so  still  that  the  soft  rustle  of 
the  falling  leaves  outside  was  distinctly  heard. 

Rob  did  not  clearly  understand  what  had  happened, 
but  he  hated  to  see  papa  unhappy,  so  he  lifted  up  the 
bent  head,  and  said,  in  his  chirpy  little  voice,  — 


320  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Don't  cry,  mein  Vater !  we  are  all  so  good,  we  did 
our  lessons  without  you,  and  Franz  was  the  master." 

JVIr.  Bhaer  looked  up  then,  tried  to  smile,  and  said  in 
a  grateful  tone  that  made  the  lads  feel  like  saints,  "  I 
thank  you  very  much,  my  boys.  It  was  a  beautiful 
way  to  help  and  comfort  me.  I  shall  not  forget  it,  I 
assure  you." 

"  Franz  proposed  it,  and  was  a  first-rate  master,  too," 
said  Nat ;  and  the  others  gave  a  murmur  of  assent  most 
gratifying  to  the  young  dominie. 

Mr.  Bhaer  put  Rob  down,  and,  standing  up,  put  his 
arm  round  his  tall  nephew's  shoulder,  as  he 'said,  with  a 
look  of  genuine  pleasure,  — 

"  This  makes  my  hard  day  easier,  and  gives  me  con- 
fidence in  you  all.  I  am  needed  there  in  town,  and 
must  leave  you  for  some  hours.  I  thought  to  give  you 
a  holiday,  or  send  some  of  you  home,  but  if  you  like  to 
stay  and  go  on  as  you  have  begun,  I  shall  be  glad  and 
proud  of  my  good  boys." 

"  We  '11  stay ; "  "  We  'd  rather ; "  "  Franz  can  see  to 
us  ; "  cried  several,  delighted  with  the  confidence  shown 
in  them. 

"  Isn't  Mai-mar  coming  home  ?  "  asked  Rob,  wistfully ; 
for  home  without  "Marmar"  was  the  world  without 
the  sun  to  him. 

"  We  shall  both  come  to-night ;  but  dear  Aunt  Meg 
needs  Mother  more  than  you  do  now,  and  I  know  you 
like  to  lend  her  for  a  little  while." 

"  Well,  I  will ;  but  Teddy 's  been  crying  for  her, 
and  he  slapped  Nursey,  and  was  dreadful  naughty," 
answered  Rob,  as  if  the  news  might  bring  mother 
home. 


JOHN  BROOKE.  321 

"  Where  is  my  little  man  ?  "  asked  Mr.  Bhaer. 

"Dan  took  him  out,  to  keep  him  quiet.  He's  all 
right  now,"  said  Franz,  pointing  to  the  window,  through 
which  they  could  see  Dan  drawing  baby  in  his  little 
wagon,  with  the  dogs  frolicking  about  him. 

"  I  won't  see  him,  it  would  only  upset  him  again  ;  but 
tell  Dan  I  leave  Teddy  in  his  care.  You  older  boys  I 
trust  to  manage  yourselves  for  a  day.  Franz  will  direct 
you,  and  Silas  is  here  to  oversee  matters.  So  good-by 
till  to-night." 

"  Just  tell  me  a  word  about  Uncle  John,"  said  Emil, 
detaining  Mr.  Bhaer,  as  Jie  was  about  hurrying  away  again. 

"  He  was  only  ill  a  few  hours,  and  died  as  he  has 
lived,  so  cheerfully,  so  peacefully,  that  it  seems  a  sin  to 
mar  the  beauty  of  it  with  any  violent  or  selfish  grief. 
We  were  in  time  to  say  good-by ;  and  Daisy  and  Demi 
were  in  his  arms  as  he  fell  asleep  on  Aunt  Meg's  breast. 
No  more  now,  I  cannot  bear  it,"  and  Mr.  Bhaer  went 
hastily  away  quite  bowed  with  grief,  for  in  John  Brooke 
he  had  lost  both  friend  and  brother,  and  there  was  no 
one  left  to  take  his  place. 

All  that  day  the  house  was  very  still ;  the  small  boys 
played  quietly  in  the  nursery ;  the  others,  feeling  as  if 
Sunday  had  come  in  the  middle  of  the  week,  spent  it 
in  walking,  sitting  in  the  willow,  or  among  their  pets, 
all  talking  much  of  "Uncle  John,"  and  feeling  that 
something  gen  tie,  just,  and  strong,  had  gone  out  of  their 
little  world,  leaving  a  sense  of  loss  that  deepened  every 
hour.  At  dusk,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  came  home  alone, 
for  Demi  and  Daisy  were  their  mother's  best  comfort 
now,  and  could  not  leave  her.  Poor  Mrs.  Jo  seemed 
quite  spent,  and  evidently  needed  the  same  sort  of  com- 
21 


322  LITTLE  MEN. 

fort,  for  her  first  words,  as  she  came  up  the  stairs,  were, 
"Where  is  my  baby?" 

"  Here  I  is,"  answered  a  little  voice,  as  Dan  put  Teddy 
into  her  arms,  adding,  as  she  hugged  him  close,  "My 
Danny  tooked  tare  of  me  all  day,  and  I  was  dood." 

Mrs.  Jo  turned  to  thank  the  faithful  nurse,  but  Dan 
was  waving  off  the  boys,  who  had  gathered  in  the  hall 
to  meet  her,  and  was  saying,  in  a  low  voice,  "Keep  back ; 
she  don't  want  to  be  bothered  with  us  now." 

"No,  don't  keep  back.  I  want  you  all.  Come  in 
and  see  me,  my  boys.  I've  neglected  you  all  day;" 
and  Mrs.  Jo  held  out  her  hands  to  them  as  they  gathered 
round  and  escorted  her  into  her  own  room,  saying  little, 
but  expressing  much  by  affectionate  looks  and  clumsy 
little  'efforts  to  show  their  sorrow  and  sympathy. 

"  I  am  so  tired,  I  will  lie  here  and  cuddle  Teddy,  and 
you  shall  bring  me  in  some  tea,"  she  said,  trying  to 
speak  cheerfully  for  their  sakes. 

A  general  stampede  into  the  dining-room  followed, 
and  the  supper-table  would  have  been  ravaged  if  Mr. 
Bhaer  had  not  interfered.  It  was  agreed  that  one  squad 
should  carry  in  the  mother's  tea,  and  another  bring  it 
out.  The  four  nearest  and  dearest  claimed  the  first 
honor,  so  Franz  bore  the  teapot,  Emil  the  bread,  Rob 
the  milk,  and  Teddy  insisted  on  carrying  the  sugar- 
basin,  which  was  lighter  by  several  lumps  when  it  ar- 
rived than  when  it  started.  Some  women  might  have 
found  it  annoying  at  such  a  time  to  have  boys  creaking 
in  and  out,  upsetting  cups  and  rattling  spoons  in  violent 
efforts  to  be  quiet  and  helpful ;  but  it  suited  Mrs.  Jo, 
because  just  then  her  heart  was  very  tender ;  and  remem- 
bering that  many  of  her  boys  were  fatherless  or  mother- 
less, she  yearned  over  them,  and  found  comfort  in  their 


JOHN  BROOKE.  323 

blundering  affection.  It  was  the  sort  of  food  that  did 
her  more  good  than  the  very  thick  bread-and-butter 
that  they  gave  her,  and  the  rough  Commodore's  broken 
whisper  — 

"  Bear  up,  Aunty,  it 's  a  hard  blow ;  but  we  '11  weather 
it  somehow,"  cheered  her  more  than  the  sloppy  cup  he 
brought  her,  full  of  tea  as  bitter  as  if  some  salt  tear  of 
his  own  had  dropped  into  it  on  the  way.  .When  supper 
was  over,  a  second  deputation  removed  the  tray ;  and 
Dan  said,  holding  out  his  arms  for  sleepy  little  Teddy,  — 

"  Let  me  put  him  to  bed,  you  're  so  tired,  Mother." 

"Will  you  go  with  him,  lovey?"  asked  Mrs.  Jo  of 
her  small  lord  and  master,  who  lay  on  her  arm  among 
the  sofa-pillows. 

"  Torse  I  will ; "  and  he  was  proudly  carried  off  by  his 
faithful  bearer. 

"I  wish  I  could  do  something,"  said  Nat,  with  a  sigh, 
as  Franz  leaned  over  the  sofa,  and  softly  stroked  Aunt 
Jo's  hot  forehead. 

"  You  can,  dear.  Go  and  get  your  violin,  and  play  me 
the  sweet  little  airs  Uncle  Teddy  sent  you  last.  Music 
will  comfort  me  better  than  any  thing  else  to-night." 

Nat  flew  for  his  fiddle,  and,  sitting  just  outside  her 
door,  played  as  he  had  never  done  before,  for  now  his 
heart  was  in  it,  and  seemed  to  magnetize  his  fingers. 
The  other  lads  sat  quietly  upon  the  steps,  keeping  watch 
that  no  new-comer  should  disturb  the  house;  Franz 
lingered  at  his  post ;  and  so,  soothed,  served,  and  guarded 
by  her  boys,  poor  Mrs.  Jo  slept  at  last,  and  forgot  her 
sorrow  for  an  hour. 

Two  quiet  days,  and  on  the  third  Mr.  Bhaer  came  in, 
just  after  school,  with  a  note  in  his  hand,  looking  both 
moved  and  pleased. 


324  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  I  want  to  read  you  something,  boys,"  he  said ;  and 
as  they  stood  round  him  he  read  this :  — 

"DEAR  BROTHER  FRITZ,  —  I  hear  that  you  do  not 
mean  to  bring  your  flock  to-day,  thinking  that  I  may 
not  like  it.  Please  do.  The  sight  of  his  friends  will 
help  Demi  through  the  hard  hour,  and  I  want  the  boys 
to  hear  what  father  says  of  my  John.  It  will  do  them 
good,  I  know.  If  they  would  sing  one  of  the  sweet  old 
hymns  you  have  taught  them  so  well,  I  should  like  it 
better  than  any  other  music,  and  feel  that  it  was  beau- 
tifully suited  to  the  occasion.  Please  ask  them,  with 
my  love.  MEG." 

"  Will  you  go  ? "  and  Mr.  Bhaer  looked  at  the  lads, 
who  were  greatly  touched  by  Mrs.  Brooke's  kind  words 
and  wishes. 

"Yes,"  they  answered,  like  one  boy;  and  an  hour 
later  they  went  away  with  Franz  to  bear  their  part  in 
John  Brooke's  simple  funeral. 

The  little  house  looked  as  quiet,  sunny,  and  home- 
like as  when  Meg  entered  it  a  bride,  ten  years  ago,  only 
then  it  was  early  summer,  and  roses  blossomed  every- 
where; now  it  was  early  autumn,  and  dead  leaves 
rustled  softly  down,  leaving  the  branches  bare.  The 
bride  was  a  widow  now ;  but  the  same  beautiful  serenity 
shone  in  her  face,  and  the  sweet  resignation  of  a  truly 
pious  soul  made  her  presence  a  consolation  to  those 
who  came  to  comfort  her. 

"  O  Meg !  how  can  you  bear  it  so  ? "  whispered  Jo, 
as  she  met  them  at  the  door  with  a  smile  of  welcome, 
and  no  change  in  her  gentle  manner,  except  more 
gentleness. 

"  Dear  Jo,  the  love  that  has  blest  me  for  ten  happy 


JOHN  BROOKE.  325 

years  supports  me  still.  It  could  not  die,  and  John  is 
more  my  own  than  ever,"  whispered  Meg ;  and  in  her 
eyes  the  tender  trust  was  so  beautiful  and  bright,  that 
Jo  believed  her,  and  thanked  God  for  the  immortality 
of  love  like  hers. 

They  were  all  there  —  father  and  mother,  Uncle 
Teddy,  and  Aunt  Amy,  old  Mr.  Laurence,  white-haired 
and  feeble  now,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Bhaer,  with  their  flock, 
and  many  friends,  come  to  do  honor  to  the  dead.  One 
would  have  said  that  modest  John  Brooke,  in  his  busy, 
quiet,  humble  life,  had  had  little  time  to  make  friends ; 
but  now  they  seemed  to  start  up  everywhere, — old  and 
young,  rich  and  poor,  high  and  low;  for  all  uncon- 
sciously his  influence  had  made  itself  widely  felt,  his 
virtues  were  remembered,  and  his  hidden  charities  rose 
up  to  bless  him.  The  group  about  his  coffin  was  a  far 
more  eloquent  eulogy  than  any  Mr.  March  could  utter. 
There  were  the  rich  men  whom  he  had  served  faithfully 
for  years ;  the  poor  old  women  whom  he  cherished  with 
his  little  store,  in  memory  of  his  mother ;  the  wife  to 
whom  he  had  given  such  happiness  that  death  could 
not  mar  it  utterly ;  the  brothers  and  sisters  in  whose 
hearts  he  had  made  a  place  for  ever ;  the  little  son  and 
daughter,  who  already  felt  the  loss  of  his  strong  arm 
and  tender  voice ;  the  young  children,  sobbing  for  their 
kindest  playmate,  and  the  tall  lads,  watching  with 
softened  faces  a  scene  which  they  never  could  forget. 
A  very  simple  service,  and  very  short ;  for  the  fatherly 
voice  that  had  faltered  in  the  marriage-sacrament  now 
failed  entirely  as  Mr.  March  endeavored  to  pay  his 
tribute  of  reverence  and  love  to  the  son  whom  he  most 
honored.  Nothing  but  the  soft  coo  of  Baby  Josy's 
voice  up-stairs  broke  the  long  hush  that  followed  the 


326  LITTLE  MEN. 

last  Amen,  till,  at  a  sign  from  Mr.  Bhaer,  the  well-trained 
boyish  voices  broke  out  in  a  hymn,  so  full  of  lofty 
cheer,  that  one  by  one  all  joined  in  i1^  singing  with  full 
hearts,  and  finding  their  troubled  spirits  lifted  into 
peace  on  the  wrings  of  that  brave,  sweet  psalm. 

As  Meg  listened,  she  felt  that  she  had  done  well ;  for 
not  only  did  the  moment  comfort  her  with  the  assur- 
ance that  John's  last  lullaby  was  sung  by  the  young 
voices  he  loved  so  well,  but  in  the  faces  of  the  boys 
she  saw  that  they  had  caught  a  glimpse  of  the  beauty 
of  virtue  in  its  most  impressive  form,  and  that  the 
memory  of  the  good  man  lying  dead  before  them  would 
live  long  and  helpfully  in  their  remembrance.  Daisy's 
head  lay  in  her  lap,  and  Demi  held  her  hand,  looking 
often  at  her,  with  eyes  so  like  his  father's,  and  a  little 
gesture  that  seemed  to  say,  "Don't  be  troubled,  mother; 
I  am  here ; "  and  all  about  her  were  friends  to  lean 
upon  and  love ;  so  patient,  pious  Meg  put  by  her  heavy 
grief,  feeling  that  her  best  help  would  be  to  live  for 
others,  as  her  John  had  done. 

That  evening,  as  the  Plumfield  boys  sat  on  the  steps, 
as  usual,  in  the  mild  September  moonlight,  they  naturally 
fell  to  talking  of  the  event  of  the  day. 

Emil  began  by  breaking  out,  in  his  impetuous  way, 
"  Uncle  Fritz  is  the  wisest,  and  Uncle  Laurie  the  jolli- 
est,  but  Uncle  John  was  the  best ;  and  I  'd  rather  be 
like  him  than  any  man  I  ever  saw." 

"  So  would  I.  Did  you  hear  wThat  those  gentlemen 
said  to  Grandpa  to-day  ?  I  would  like  to  have  that 
said  of  me  when  I  was  dead ; "  and  Franz  felt  with 
regret  that  he  had  not  appreciated  Uncle  John  enough. 

"  What  did  they  say  ? "  asked  Jack,  who  had  been 
much  impressed  by  the  scenes  of  the  day. 


JOHN  BROOKE.  327 

"  Why,  one  of  the  partners  of  Mr.  Laurence,  where 
Uncle  John  has  been  ever  so  long,  was  saying  that  he 
was  conscientious  almost  to  a  fault  as  a  business  man, 
and  above  reproach  in  all  things.  Another  gentleman 
said  no  money  could  repay  the  fidelity  and  honesty 
with  which  Uncle  John  had  served  him,  and  then 
Grandpa  told  them  the  best  of  all.  Uncle  John  once 
had  a  place  in  the  office  of  a  man  who  cheated,  and 
when  this  man  wanted  uncle  to  help  him  do  it,  uncle 
wouldn't,  though  he  was  offered  a  big  salary.  The  man 
was  angry  and  said,  '  You  will  never  get  on  in  business 
with  such  strict  principles ; '  and  uncle  answered  back, 
'  I  never  will  try  to  get  on  without  them,'  and  left  the 
place  for  a  much  harder  and  poorer  one." 

"  Good ! "  cried  several  of  the  boys  warmly,  for  they 
were  in  the  mood  to  understand  and  value  the  little 
story  as  never  before. 

"  He  wasn't  rich,  was  he  ?  "  asked  Jack. 

"No." 

"  He  never  did  any  thing  to  make  a  stir  in  the  world, 
did  he?" 

"  No." 

"  He  was  only  good  ?  " 

"  That 's  all ; "  and  Franz  found  himself  wishing  that 
Uncle  John  had  done  something  to  boast  of,  for  it  was 
evident  that  Jack  was  disappointed  by  his  replies. 

"  Only  good.  That  is  all  and  every  thing,"  said  Mr. 
Bhaer,  who  had  overheard  the  last  few  words,  and 
guessed  what  was  going  on  in  the  minds  of  the  lads. 

"  Let  me  tell  you  a  little  about  John  Brooke,  and  you 
will  see  why  men  honor  him,  and  why  he  was  satisfied 
to  be  good  rather  than  rich  or  famous.  He  simply  did 
his  duty  in  all  things,  and  did  it  so  cheerfully,  so  faith- 


328  LITTLE  MEN. 

fully,  that  it  kept  him  patient,  brave,  and  happy  through 
poverty  and  loneliness  and  years  of  hard  work.  He 
was  a  good  son,  and  gave  up  his  own  plans  to  stay  and 
live  with  his  mother  while  she  needed  him.  He  was  a 
good  friend,  and  taught  Laurie  much  beside  his  Greek 
and  Latin,  did  it  unconsciously,  perhaps,  by  showing 
him  an  example  of  an  upright  man.  He  was  a  faithful 
servant,  and  made  himself  so  valuable  to  those  who 
employed  him  that  they  will  find  it  hard  to  fill  his 
place.  He  was  a  good  husband  and  father,  so  tender, 
wise,  and  thoughtful,  that  Laurie  and  I  learned  much 
of  him,  and  only  knew  how  well  he  loved  his  family, 
when  we  discovered  all  he  had  done  for  them,  unsus- 
pected and  unassisted." 

Mr.  Bhaer  stopped  a  minute,  and  the  boys  sat  like 
statues  in  the  moonlight  until  he  went  on  again,  in  a' 
subdued,  but  earnest  voice  :  "  As  he  lay  dying,  I  said 
to  him,  'Have  no  care  for  Meg  and  the  little  ones;  I  will 
see  that  they  never  want.'  Then  he  smiled  and  pressed 
my  hand,  and  answered,  in  his  cheerful  way,  'No  need 
of  that ;  I  have  cared  for  them.'  And  so  he  had,  for 
when  we  looked  among  his  papers,  all  was  in  order,  not 
a  debt  remained ;  and  safely  put  away  was  enough  to 
keep  Meg  comfortable  and  independent.  Then  we 
knew  why  he  had  lived  so  plainly,  denied  himself  so 
many  pleasures,  except  that  of  charity,  and  worked  so 
hard  that  I  fear  he  shortened  his  good  life.  He  never 
asked  help  for  himself,  though  often  for  others,  but  bore 
his  own  burden  and  worked  out  his  own  task  bravely 
and  quietly.  No  one  can  say  a  word  of  complaint 
against  him,  so  just  and  generous  and  kind  was  he  ; 
and  now,  when  he  is  gone,  all  find  so  much  to  love  and 
praise  and  honor,  that  I  am  proud  to  have  been  his 


JOHN  BROOKE.  329 

friend,  and  would  rather  leave  my  children  the  legacy 
he  leaves  his  than  the  largest  fortune  ever  made.  Yes ! 
Simple,  genuine  goodness  is  the  best  capital  to  found 
the  business  of  this  life  upon.  It  lasts  when  fame  and 
money  fail,  and  is  the  only  riches  we  can  take  out  of 
this  world  with  us.  Remember  that,  my  boys ;  and  if 
you  want  to  earn  respect  and  confidence  and  love 
follow  in  the  footsteps  of  John  Brooke." 

When  Demi  returned  to  school,  after  some  weeks  at 
home,  he  seemed  to  have  recovered  from  his  loss  with 
the  blessed  elasticity  of  childhood,  and  so  he  had  in  a 
measure ;  but  he  did  not  forget,  for  his  was  a  nature 
into  which  things  sank  deeply,  to  be  pondered  over,  and 
absorbed  into  the  soil  where  the  small  virtues  were 
growing  fast.  He  played  and  studied,  worked  and  sang, 
just  as  before,  and  few  suspected  any  change ;  but  there 
was  one  —  and  Aunt  Jo  saw  it  — for  she  watched  over 
the  boy  with  her  whole  heart,  trying  to  fill  John's  place 
in  her  poor  way.  He  seldom  spoke  of  his  loss,  but 
Aunt  Jo  often  heard  a  stifled  sobbing  in  the  little  bed 
at  night ;  and  when  she  went  to  comfort  him,  all  his  cry 
was,  "  I  want  my  father !  oh,  I  want  my  father ! "  —  for 
the  tie  between  the  two  had  been  a  very  tender  one, 
and  the  child's  heart  bled  when  it  was  broken.  But 
time  was  kind  to  him,  and  slowly  he  came  to  feel  that 
father  was  not  lost,  only  invisible  for  a  while,  and  sure 
to  be  found  again,  well  and  strong  and  fond  as  ever, 
even  though  his  little  son  should  see  the  purple  asters 
blossom  on  his  grave  many,  many  times  before  they 
met.  To  this  belief  Demi  held  fast,  and  in  it  found 
both  help  and  comfort,  because  it  led  him  unconsciously 
through  a  tender  longing  for  the  father  whom  he  had 
seen  to  a  childlike  trust  in  the  Father  whom  he  had  not 


330  LITTLE  MEN. 

seen.  Both  were  in  heaven,  and  he  prayed  to  both, 
trying  to  be  good  for  love  of  them. 

The  outward  change  corresponded  to  the  inward,  for 
in  those  few  weeks  Demi  seemed  to  have  grown  tall, 
and  began  to  drop  his  childish  plays,  not  as  if  ashamed 
of  them,  as  som'e  boys  do,  but  as  if  he  had  outgrown 
them,  and  wanted  something  manlier.  He  took  to  the 
hated  arithmetic,  and  held  on  so  steadily  that  his  uncle 
was  charmed,  though  he  could  not  understand  the 
whim,  until  Demi  said  — 

"  I  am  going  to  be  a  bookkeeper  when  I  grow  up, 
like  papa,  and  I  must  know  about  figures  and  things, 
else  I  can't  have  nice,  neat  ledgers  like  his." 

At  another  time  he  came  to  his  aunt  with  a  very 
serious  face,  and  said  — 

"  What  can  a  small  boy  do  to  earn  money  ?  " 

"  Why  do  you  ask,  my  deary  ?  " 

"  My  father  told  me  to  take  care  of  mother  and  the 
little  girls,  and  I  wrant  to,  but  I  don't  know  how  to 
begin." 

"  He  did  not  mean  now,  Demi,  but  by  and  by,  when 
you  are  large." 

"  But  I  wish  to  begin  now,  if  I  can,  because  I  think  I 
ought  to  make  some  money  to  buy  things  for  the 
family.  I  am  ten,  and  other  boys  no  bigger  than  I  earn 
pennies  sometimes." 

"  Well,  then,  suppose  you  rake  up  all  the  dead  leaves 
and  cover  the  strawberry  bed.  I  '11  pay  you  a  dollar 
for  the  job,"  said  Aunt  Jo. 

"Isn't  that  a  great  deal?  I  could  do  it  in  one  day. 
You  must  be  fair,  and  not  pay  too  much,  because  I 
want  to  truly  earn  it." 

"  My  little  John,  I  will  be  fair,  and  not  pay  a  penny 


JOHN  BROOKE.  331 

too  much.  Don't  work  too  hard ;  and  when  that  is 
done  I  will  have  something  else  for  you  to  do,"  said 
Mrs.  Jo,  much  touched  by  his  desire  to  help,  and  his 
sense  of  justice,  so  like  his  scrupulous  father. 

When  the  leaves  were  done,  many  barrowloads  of 
chips  were  wheeled  from  the  wood  to  the  shed,  and 
another  dollar  earned.  Then  Demi  helped  cpver  the 
school-books,  working  in  the  evenings,  under  Franz's 
direction,  tugging  patiently  away  at  each  book,  letting 
no  one  help,  and  receiving  his  wages  with  such  satis- 
faction that  the  dingy  bills  became  quite  glorified  in  his 
sight. 

"  Now,  I  have  a  dollar  for  each  of  them,  and  I  should 
like  to  take  my  money  to  mother  all  myself,  so  she  can 
see  that  I  have  minded  my  father." 

So  Demi  made  a  duteous  pilgrimage  to  his  mother, 
who  received  his  little  earnings  as  a  treasure  of  great 
worth,  and  would  have  kept  it  untouched,  if  Demi 
had  not  begged  her  to  buy  some  useful  thing  for  herself 
and  the  women-children,  whom  he  felt  were  left  to  his 
care. 

This  made  him  very  happy,  and,  though  he  often 
forgot  his  responsibilities  for  a  time,  the  desire  to  help 
was  still  there,  strengthening  with  his  years.  He 
always  uttered  the  words  "  my  father "  with  an  air  of 
gentle  pride,  and  often  said,  as  if  he  claimed  a  title  full 
of  honor,  "  Don't  call  me  Demi  any  more.  I  am  John 
Brooke  now."  So,  strengthened  by  a  purpose  and  a 
hope,  the  little  lad  of  ten  bravely  began  the  world,  and 
entered  into  his  inheritance,  —  the  memory  of  a  wise 
and  tender  father,  the  legacy  of  an  honest  name. 


CHAPTER    XX. 

0 

ROUND  THE  FIRE. 

WITH  the  October  frosts  came  the  cheery  fires  in 
the  great  fireplaces;  and  Demi's  dry  pine-chips 
helped  Dan's  oak-knots  to  blaze  royally,  and  go  roaring 
up  the  chimney  with  a  jolly  sound.  All  were  glad  to 
gather  round  the  hearth,  as  the  evenings  grew  longer, 
to  play  games,  read,  or  lay  plans  for  the  winter.  But 
the  favorite  amusement  was  story-telling,  and  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  Bhaer  -were  expected  to  have  a  store  of  lively 
tales  always  on  hand.  Their  supply  occasionally  gave 
out,  and  then  the  boys  were  thrown  upon  their  own 
resources,  which  were  not  always  successful.  Ghost- 
parties  were  the  rage  at  one  time ;  for  the  fun  of  the 
thing  consisted  in  putting  out  the  lights,  letting  the  fire 
die  down,  and  then  sitting  in  the  dark,  and  telling  the 
most  awful  tales  they  could  invent.  As  this  resulted 
in  scares  of  all  sorts  among  the  bays,  Tommy's  walking 
in  his  sleep  on  the  shed  roof,  and  a  general  state  of 
nervousness  in  the  little  ones,  it  was  forbidden,  and 
they  fell  back  on  more  harmless  amusements. 

One  evening,  when  the  small  boys  were  snugly  tucked 
in  bed,  and  the  older  lads  were  lounging  about  the 


EOUND   THE  FIEE.    .  333 

school-room  fire,  trying  to  decide  what  they  should 
do,  Demi  suggested  a-  new  way  of  settling  the  ques- 
tion. 

Seizing  the  hearth-brush,  he  marched  up  and  down 
the  room,  saying,  "Row,  row,  row;"  and  when  the 
boys,  laughing  and  pushing,  had  got  into  line,  he  said, 
"  Now,  I  '11  give  you  two  minutes  to  think  of  a  play." 
Franz  was  writing,  and  Emil  reading  the  Life  of  Lord 
Nelson,  and  neither  joined  the  party,  but  the  others 
thought  hard,  and  when  the  time  was  up  were  ready 
to  reply. 

"  Now,  Tom ! "  and  the  poker  softly  rapped  him  on 
the  head. 

"Blind-man's  Buff." 

"Jack!" 

"  Commerce ;  a  good  round  game,  and  have  cents  for 
the  pool." 

"Uncle  forbids  our  playing  for  money.  Dan,  what 
do  you  want  ?  " 

"Let's  have  a  battle  between  the  Greeks  and 
Romans." 

"Stuffy?" 

"  Roast  apples,  pop  corn,  and  crack  nuts." 

"Good!  good!"  cried  several;  and  when  the  vote 
was  taken,  Stuffy's  proposal  carried  the  day. 

Some  went  to  the  cellar  for  apples,  some  to  the 
garret  for  nuts,  and  others  looked  up  the  popper  and 
the  corn. 

"  We  had  better  ask  the  girls  to  come  in,  hadn't  we  ?  " 
said  Demi,  in  a  sudden  fit  of  politeness. 

"Daisy  pricks  chestnuts  beautifully,"  put  in  Nat, 
who  wanted  his  little  friend  to  share  the  fun. 


334  LITTLE  MEN. 

"Nan  pops  corn  tip-top,  we  must  have  her,"  added 
Tommy. 

"  Bring  in  your  sweethearts  then,  we  don't  mind,"  said 
Jack,  who  laughed  at  the  innocent  regard  the  little 
people  had  for  one  another. 

"You  shan't  call  my  sister  a  sweetheart;  it  is  so 
silly ! "  cried  Demi,  in  a  way  that  made  Jack  laugh. 

"  She  is  Nat's  darling,  isn't  she,  old  chirper  ?  " 

"  Yes,  if  Demi  don't  mind.  I  can't  help  being  fond 
of  her,  she  is  so  good  to  me,"  answered  Nat,  with  bash- 
ful earnestness,  for  Jack's  rough  ways  disturbed  him. 

"Nan  is  my  sweetheart,  and  I  shall  marry  her  in 
about  a  year,  so  don't  you  get  in  the  way,  any  of  you," 
said  Tommy,  stoutly ;  for  he  and  Nan  had  settled  their 
future,  child-fashion,  and  were  to  live  in  the  willow, 
lower  down  a  basket  for  food,  and  do  other  charmingly 
impossible  things. 

Demi  was  quenched  by  the  decision  of  Bangs,  who 
took  him  by  the  arm  and  walked  him  off  to  get  the 
ladies.  Nan  and  Daisy  were  sewing  with  Aunt  Jo  on 
certain  small  garments  for  Mrs.  Carney's  newest  baby. 

"Please,  ma'am,  could  you  lend  us  the  girls  for  a 
little  while?  we'll  be  very  careful  of 'them,"  said 
Tommy,  winking  one  eye  to  express  apples,  snapping 
his  fingers  to  signify  pop-corn,  and  gnashing  his  teeth 
to  convey  the  idea  of  nut-cracking. 

The  girls  understood  this  pantomime  at  once,  and  be- 
gan to  pull  off  their  thimbles  before  Mrs.  Jo  could  decide 
whether  Tommy  was  going  into  convulsions  or  was 
brewing  some  unusual  piece  of  mischief.  Demi  ex- 
plained with  elaboration,  permission  was  readily  granted, 
and  the  boys  departed  with  their  prize. 


BOUND   THE  F1EE.  335 

"Don't  you  speak  to  Jack,"  whispered  Tommy,  as  he 
and  Nan  promenaded  down  the  hall  to  get  a  fork  to 
prick  the  apples. 

"Why  not?" 

"  He  laughs  at  me,  so  I  don't  wish  you  to  have  any 
thing  to  do  with  him." 

"  Shall,  if  I  like,^'  said  Nan,  promptly  resenting  this 
premature  assumption  of  authority  on  the  part  of  her 
lord. 

"  Then  I  won't  have  you  for  my  sweetheart." 

"I  don't  care." 

"  Why,  Nan,  I  thought  you  were  fond  of  me !  "  and 
Tommy's  voice  was  full  of  tender  reproach. 

"  If  you  mind  Jack's  laughing  I  don't  care  for  you 
one  bit." 

"  Then  you  may  take  back  your  old  ring ;  I  won't 
wear  it  any  longer ;  "  and  Tommy  plucked  off  a  horse- 
hair pledge  of  affection  which  Nan  had  given  him  in 
return  for  one  made  of  a  lobster's  feeler. 

"  I  shall  give  it  to  Ned,"  was  her  cruel  reply ;  for 
Ned  liked  Mrs.  Giddy-gaddy,  and  had  turned  her 
clothes-pins,  boxes,  and  spools  enough  to  set  up  house- 
keeping with. 

Tommy  said,  "  Thunder-turtles ! "  as  the  only  vent 
equal  to  the  pent-up  anguish  of  the  irtoment,  and,  drop- 
ping Nan's  arm,  retired  in  high  dudgeon,  leaving  her  to 
follow  with  the  fork, — a  neglect  which  naughty  Nan 
punished  by  proceeding  to  prick  his  heart  .with  jealousy 
as  if  it  were  another  sort  of  apple. 

The  hearth  was  swept,  and  the  rosy  Baldwins  put 
down  to  roast.  A  shovel  was  heated,  and  the  chestnuts 
danced  merrily  upon  it,  while  the  corn  popped  wildly 


336  LITTLE  MEN. 

in  its  wire  prison.  Dan  cracked  his  best  walnuts,  and 
every  one  chattered  and  laughed,  while  the  rain  beat 
on  the  window-pane  and  the  wind  howled  round  the 
house. 

"  Why  is  Billy  like  this  nut  ?  "  asked  Emil,  who  was 
frequently  inspired  with  bad  conundrums. 

"  Because  he  is  cracked,"  answered  Ned. 

"  That 's  not  fair ;  you  mustn't  make  fun  of  Billy,  be- 
cause he  can't  hit  back  again.  It 's  mean,"  cried  Dan, 
smashing  a  nut  wrathfully. 

"To  what  family  of  insects  does  Blake  belong?" 
asked  peacemaker  Franz,  seeing  that  Emil  looked 
ashamed  and  Dan  lowering. 

"  Gnats,"  answered  Jack. 

"  Why  is  Daisy  like  a  bee  ?"  cried  Nat,  who  had  been 
wrapt  in  thought  for  several  minutes. 

"  Because  she  is  queen  of  the  hive,"  said  Dan. 

«  No." 

tt  Because  she  is  sweet." 

"  Bees  are  not  sweet." 

«  Give  it  up." 

"Because  she  makes  sweet  things,  is  always  busy, 
and  likes  flowers,"  said  Nat,  piling  up  his  boyish  com- 
pliments till  Daisy  blushed  like  a  rosy  clover. 

"Why  is  Nan  like  a  hornet?"  demanded  Tommy, 
glowering  at  her,  and  adding,  without  giving  any  one 
time  to  answer,  "Because  she  isrtt  sweet,  makes  a 
great  buzzing  about  nothing,  and  stings  like  fury." 

"  Tommy's  mad,  and  I  'm  glad,"  cried  Ned,  as  Nan 
tossed  her  head  and  answered  quickly — 

"  What  thing  in  the  china-closet  is  Tom  like  ?  " 

"A  pepper  pot,"  answered  Ned,  giving  Nan  a  nut 


BOUND   THE  FIRE.  337 

meat  with  a  tantalizing  laugh  that  made  Tommy  feel 
as  if  he  would  like  to  bounce  up  like  a  hot  chestnut 
and  hit  somebody. 

Seeing  that  ill-humor  was  getting  the  better  of  the 
small  supply  of  wit  in  the  company,  Franz  cast  himself 
into  the  breach  again. 

"  Let 's  make  a  law  that  the  first  person  who  comes 
into  the  room  shall  tell  us  a  story.  No  matter  who  it  is, 
he  must  do  it,  and  it  will  be  fun  to  see  who  comes  first." 

The  others  agreed,  and  did  not  have  to  wait  long,  for 
a  heavy  step  soon  came  clumping  through  the  hall,  and 
Silas  appeared,  bearing  an  armful  of  wood.  He  was 
greeted  by  a  general  shout,  and  stood  staring  about 
him  with  a  bewildered  grin  on  his  big  red  face,  till 
Franz  explained  the  joke. 

"  Sho !  I  can't  tell  a  story,"  he  said,  putting  down  his 
load  and  preparing  to  leave  the  room.  But  the  boys  fell 
upon  him,  forced  him  into  a  seat,  and  held  him  there, 
laughing  and  clamoring  for  their  story,  till  the  good- 
natured  giant  was  overpowered. 

"  I  don't  know  but  jest  one  story,  and  that 's  about  a 
horse,"  he  said,  much  flattered  by  the  reception  he 
received. 

"  Tell  it !  tell  it ! "  cried  the  boys. 

"  Wai,"  began  Silas,  tipping  his  chair  back  against  the 
wall,  and  putting  his  thumbs  in  the  arm-holes  of  his 
waistcoat,  "  I  jined  a  cavalry  regiment  durin'  the  war, 
and  see  a  consid'able  amount  of  fightin'.  My  horse, 
Major,  was  a  fust-rate  animal,  and  I  was  as  fond  on  him 
as  ef  he  'd  ben  a  human  critter.  He  warn't  harnsome, 
but  he  was  the  best-tempered,  stiddyest,  lovenest  brute 
I  ever  see.  The  fust  battle  we  went  into,  he  give  me  a 
22 


338  LITTLE  MEN. 

lesson  that  I  didn't  forgit  in  a  hurry,  and  I  '11  tell  you 
how  it  was.  It  ain't  no  use  tryin'  to  picter  the  noise  and 
hurry,  and  general  horridness  of  a  battle  to  you  young 
fellers,  for  I  ain't  no  words  to  do  it  in ;  but  I  'm  free 
to  confess  that  I  got  so  sort  of  confused  and  upset  at  the 
fust  on  it,  that  I  didn't  know  what  I  was  about.  We 
was  ordered  to  charge,  and  went  ahead  like  good  ones, 
never  stoppin'  to  pick  up  them  that  went  down  in  the 
scrimmage.  I  got  a  shot  in  the  arm,  and  was  pitched 
out  of  the  saddle  —  don't  know  how,  but  there  I  was 
left  behind  with  two  or  three  others,  dead  and  wounded, 
for  the  rest  went  on,  as  I  say.  Wai,  I  picked  myself  up 
and  looked  round  for  Major,  feeling  as  ef  I'd  had  about 
enough  for  that  spell.  I  didn't  see  him  nowhere,  and 
was  kinder  walking  back  to  camp,  when  I  heard  a 
whinny  that  sounded  nateral.  I  looked  round,  and  there 
was  Major  stopping  for  me  a  long  way  off,  and  lookin' 
as  ef  he  didn't  understand  why  I  was  loiterin'  behind. 
I  whistled,  and  he  trotted  up  to  me  as  I  'd  trained  him 
to  do.  I  mounted  as  well  as  I  could  with  my  left  arm 
bleedin'  and  was  for  going  on  to  camp,  for  I  declare  I  felt 
as  sick  and  wimbly  as  a  woman  ;  folks  often  do  in  their 
fust  battle.  But,  no,  sir  1  Major  was  the  bravest  of  the 
two,  and  he  wouldn't  go,  not  a  peg ;  he  jest  rared  up, 
and  danced,  and  snorted,  and  acted  as  ef  the  smell  of 
powder  and  the  noise  had  drove  him  half  wild.  I  done 
my  best,  but  he  wouldn't  give  in,  so  I  did ;  and  what  do 
you  think  that  plucky  brute  done  ?  He  wheeled  slap 
round,  and  galloped  back  like  a  hurricane,  right  into 
the  thickest  of  the  scrimmage  !" 

"Good  for  him!"  cried  Dan,   excitedly,    while  the 
other  boys  forgot  apples  and  nuts  in  their  interest. 


ROUND   THE  FIRE.  339 

"  I  wish  I  may  die  ef  I  warn't  ashamed  of  myself," 
continued  Silas,  warming  up  at  the  recollection  of  that 
day.  "  I  was  as  mad  as  a  hornet,  and  I  forgot  my 
waound,  and  jest  pitched  in,  rampagin'  raound  like  fury 
till  there  come  a  shell  into  the  midst  of  us,  and  in  bustin' 
knocked  a  lot  of  us  flat.  I  didn't  know  nothin'  for  a  spell, 
and  when  I  come-to,  the  fight  was  over  jest  there,  and  I 
found  myself  layin'  by  a  wall  with  poor  Major  long-side 
wuss  wounded  than  I  was.  My  leg  was  broke,  and  I 
had  a  ball  in  my  shoulder,  but  he,  poor  old  feller !  was 
all  tore  in  the  side  with  a  piece  of  that  blasted  shell." 

"O  Silas!  what  did  you  do  ?"  cried  Nan,  pressing 
close  to  him  with  a  face  full  of  eager  sympathy  and 
interest. 

"  I  dragged  myself  nigher,  and  tried  to  stop  the 
bleedin'  with  sech  rags  as  I  could  tear  off  of  me  with 
one  hand.  But  it  warn't  no  use,  and  he  lay  moanin' 
with  horrid  pain,  and  lookin'  at  me  with  them  lovin' 
eyes  of  his,  till  I  thought  I  couldn't  bear  it.  I  give 
him  all  the  help  I  could,  and  when  the  sun  got  hotter 
and  hotter,  and  he  began  to  lap  out  his  tongue,  I  tried 
to  get  to  a  brook  that  was  a  good  piece  away,  but  I 
couldn't  do  it,  being  stiff  and  faint,  so  I  give  it  up  and 
fanned  him  with  my  hat.  Now  you  listen  to  this,  and 
when  you  hear  folks  comin'  down  on  the  rebs,  you 
jest  remember  what  one  on  'em  did,  and  give  him  the 
credit  of  it.  A  poor  feller  in  gray  laid  not  fur  off,  shot 
through  the  lungs,  and  dying  fast.  I'd  offered  him  my 
handkerchief  to  keep  the  sun  off  his  face,  and  he'd 
thanked  me  kindly,  for  in  sech  times  as  that  men  don't 
stop  to  think  on  which  side  they  belong,  but  jest  buckle- 
to  and  help  one  another.  When  he  see  me  moumin' 


340  LITTLE  MEN. 

over  Major  and  tryin'  to  ease  his  pain,  he  looked  up  with 
his  face  all  damp  and  white  with  sufferin',  and  sez  he, 
4  There  's  water  in  my  canteen ;  take  it,  for  it  can't  help 
me,'  and  he  flung  it  to  me.  I  couldn't  have  took  it  ef  I 
hadn't  had  a  little  brandy  in  a  pocket  flask,  and  I  made 
him  drink  it.  It  done  him  good,  and  I  felt  as  much  set 
up  as  if  I'd  drunk  it  myself.  It's  surprisin'  the  good 
seeh  little  things  do  folks  sometimes ; "  and  Silas  paused 
as  if  he  felt  again  the  comfort  of  that  moment  when 
he  and  his  enemy  forgot  their  feud,  and  helped  one 
another  like  brothers. 

"  Tell  about  Major,"  cried  the  boys,  impatient  for  the 
catastrophe. 

"  I  poured  the  water  over  his  poor  pantin'  tongue,  and 
ef  ever  a  dumb  critter  looked  grateful,  he  did  then. 
But  it  warn't  of  much  use,  for  the  dreadful  waound  kep 
on  tormentin'  him,  till  I  couldn't  bear  it  any  longer.  It 
was  hard,  but  I  done  it  in  mercy,  and  I  know  he  forgive 
me." 

"What  did  you  do?"  asked  Emil,  as  Silas  stopped 
abruptly  with  a  loud  "  hem,"  and  a  look  in  his  rough 
face  that  made  Daisy  go  and  stand  by  him  with  her 
little  hand  on  his  knee. 

"I  shot  him." 

Quite  a  thrill  went  through  the  listeners  as  Silas  said 
that,  for  Major  seemed  a  hero  in  their  eyes,  and  his 
tragic  end  roused  all  their  sympathy. 

"  Yes,  I  shot  him,  and  put  him  out  of  his  misery.  I 
patted  him  fust,  and  said,  '  Good-by ; '  then  I  laid  his 
head  easy  on  the  grass,  give  a  last  look  into  his  lovin' 
eyes,  and  sent  a  bullet  through  his  head.  He  hardly 
stirred,  I  aimed  so  true,  and  when  I  see  him  quite  still, 


ROUND   THE  FIRE.  341 

with  no  more  moanin'  and  pain,  I  was  glad,  and  yet  — 
Aval,  I  don't  know  as  I  need  be  ashamed  on't  —  I  jest 
put  my  arms  raound  his  neck  and  boo-hooed  like  a  great 
baby.  Sho!  I  didn't  know  I  was  such  a  fool;"  and 
Silas  drew  his  sleeve  across  his  eyes,  as  much  touched 
by  Daisy's  sob,  as  by  the  memory  of  faithful  Major. 

No  one  spoke  for  a  minute,  because  the  boys  were  as 
quick  to  feel  the  pathos  of  the  little  story  as  tender- 
hearted Daisy,  though  they  did  not  show  it  by  crying. 

"I'd  like  a  horse  like  that,"  said  Dan,  half-aloud. 

"  Did  the  rebel  man  die  too  ?  "  asked  Nan,  anxiously. 

"Not  then.  We  laid  there  all  day,  and  at  night" 
some  of  our  fellers  came  to  look  after  the  missing  ones. 
They  nat'rally  wanted  to  take  me  fust,  but  I  knew  I 
could  wait,  and  the  rebel  had  but  one  chance,  maybe, 
so  I  made  them  carry  him  off  right  away.  He  had  jest 
strength  enough  to  hold  out  his  hand  to  me  and  say, 
4  Thanky,  comrade ! '  and  them  was  the  last  words  he 
spoke,  for  he  died  an  hour  after  he  got  to  the  hospital- 
tent." 

"  How  glad  you  must  have  been  that  you  were  kind 
to  him ! "  said  Demi,  who  was  deeply  impressed  by  this 
story. 

"  Wai,  I  did  take  comfort  thinkin'  of  it,  as  I  laid  there 
alone  for  a  number  of  hours  with  my  head  on  Major's 
neck,  and  see  the  moon  come  up.  I  'd  like  to  have  buried 
the  poor  beast  decent,  but  it  warn't  possible ;  so  I  cut 
off  a  bit  of  his  mane,  and  I  Ve  kep  it  ever  sence.  Want 
to  see  it,  sissy  ?  " 

"  Oh,  yes,  please,"  answered  Daisy,  wiping  away  her 
tears  to  look. 

Silas  took  out   an  old  "  wallet,"  as  he   called  his 


342  LITTLE  MEN. 

pocket-book,  and  produced  from  an  inner  fold  a  bit  of 
brown  paper,  in  which  was  a  rough  lock  of  white  horse- 
hair. The  children  looked  at  it  silently,  as  it  lay  in  the 
broad  palm,  and  no  one  found  any  thing  to  ridicule  in 
the  love  Silas  bore  his  good  horse  Major. 

"That  is  a  sweet  story,  and  I  like  it,  though  it  did 
make  me  cry.  Thank  you  very  much,  Si,"  and  Daisy 
helped  him  fold  and  put  away  his  little  relic ;  while 
Kan  stuffed  a  handful  of  pop-corn  into  his  pocket,  and 
the  boys  loudly  expressed  their  flattering  opinions  of  his 
story,  feeling  that  there  had  been  two  heroes  in  it. 

He  departed,  quite  overcome  by  his  honors,  and  the 
little  conspirators  talked  the  tale  over  while  they  waited 
for  their  next  victim.  It  was  Mrs.  Jo,  who  came  in  to 
measure  Nan  for  some  new  pinafores  she  was  making 
for  her.  They  let  her  get  well  in,  and  then  pounced 
upon  her,  telling  her  the  law,  and  demanding  the  story. 
Mrs.  Jo  was  .very  much  amused  at  the  new  trap,  and 
consented  at  once,  for  the  sound  of  the  happy  voices  had 
been  coming  across  the  hall  so  pleasantly  that  she  quite 
longed  to  join  them,  and  forget  her  own  anxious 
thoughts  of  Sister  Meg. 

"Am  I  the  first  mouse  you  have  caught,  you  sly 
pussies-in-boots  ? "  she  asked,  as  she  was  conducted  to 
the  big  chair,  supplied  with  refreshments,  and  sur- 
rounded by  a  flock  of  merry-faced  listeners. 

They  told  her  about  Silas  and  his  contribution,  and 
she  slapped  her  forehead  in  despair,  for  she  was  quite 
at  her  wits'  end,  being  called  upon  so  unexpectedly  for 
a  bran  new  tale. 

"  What  shall  I  tell  about  ?  "  she  said. 

"  Boys,"  was  the  general  answer. 


ROUND   THE  FIRE.  343 

a  Have  a  party  in  it,"  said  Daisy. 

"  And  something  good  to  eat,"  added  Stufiy. 

"  That  reminds  me  of  a  story,  written  years  ago  by  a 
dear  old  lady.  I  used  to  be  very  fond  of  it,  and  I  fancy 
you  will  like  it,  for  it  has  both  boys,  and  '  something 
good  to  eat'  in  it." 

"  What  is  it  called  ?  "  asked  Demi. 

"'The  Suspected  Boy.'" 

Nat  looked  up  from  the  nuts  he  was  picking,  and 
Mrs.  Jo  smiled  at  him,  guessing  what  was  in  his 
mind. 

"  Miss  Crane  kept  a  school  for  boys  in  a  quiet  little 
town,  and  a  very  good  school  it  was,  of  the  old-fash- 
ioned sort.  Six  boys  lived  in  her  house,  and  four  or 
five  more  came  in  from  the  town.  Among  those  who 
lived  with  her  was  one  named  Lewis  White.  Lewis 
was  not  a  bad  boy,  but  rather  timid,  and  now  and  then 
he  told  a  lie.  One  day  a  neighbor  sent  Miss  Crane  a 
basket  of  gooseberries.  There  were  not  enough  to  go  . 
round,  so  kind  Miss  Crane,  who  liked  to  please  her 
boys,  went  to  work  and  made  a  dozen  nice  little  goose- 
berry tarts. 

"  I  'd  like  to  try  gooseberry  tarts.  I  wonder  if  she 
made  them  as  I  do  my  raspberry  ones,"  said  Daisy, 
whose  interest  in  cooking  had  lately  revived. 

"  Hush,"  said  Nat,  tucking  a  plump  pop-corn  into  her 
mouth  to  silence  her,  for  he  felt  a  peculiar  interest  in 
this  tale,  and  thought  it  opened  well. 

"  When  the  tarts  were  done,  Miss  Crane  put  them 
away  in  the  best  parlor  closet  and  said  not  a  word  about 
them,  for  she  wanted  to  surprise  the  boys  at  tea-time. 
When  the  minute  came  and  all  were  seated  at  table,  she 


844  LITTLE  MEN. 

went  to  get  her  tarts,  but  came  back  looking  much 
troubled,  for  what  do  you  think  had  happened  ?  " 

"  Somebody  had  hooked  them ! "  cried  Ned. 

"No,  there  they  were,  but  some  one  had  stolen  all 
the  fruit  out  of  them  by  lifting  up  the  upper  crust  and 
then  putting  it  down  after  the  gooseberry  had  been 
scraped  out." 

"  What  a  mean  trick ! "  and  Nan  looked  at  Tommy, 
as  if  to  imply  that  he  would  do  the  same. 

"  When  she  told  the  boys  her  plan  and  showed  them 
the  poor  little  patties  all  robbed  of  their  sweetness, 
the  boys  were  much  grieved  and  disappointed,  and  all 
declared  that  they  knew  nothing  about  the  matter. 
1  Perhaps  the  rats  did  it,'  said  Lewis,  who  was  among  the 
loudest  to  deny  any  knowledge  of  the  tarts.  4  No,  rats 
would  have  nibbled  crust  and  all,  and  never  lifted  it  up 
and  scooped  out  the  fruit.  Hands  did  that,'  said  Miss 
Crane,  who  was  more  troubled  about  the  lie  that  some 
one  must  have  told  than  about  her  lost  patties.  Well, 
they  had  supper  and  went  to  bed,  but  in  the  night  Miss 
Crane  heard  some  one  groaning,  and  going  to  see  who 
it  was  she  found  Lewis  in  great  pain.  He  had  evidently 
eaten  something  that  disagreed  with  him,  and  was  so 
sick  that  Miss  Crane  was  alarmed,  and  was  going  to 
send  for  the  doctor,  when  Lewis  moaned  out,  '  It 's  the 
gooseberries ;  I  ate  them,  and  I  must  tell  before  I  die,' 
for  the  thought  of  a  doctor  frightened  him.  *  If  that  is 
all,  I  '11  give  you  an  emetic  and  you  will  soon  get  over 
it,'  said  Miss  Crane.  So  Lewis  had  a  good  dose,  and 
by  morning  was  quite  comfortable.  '  Oh,  don't  tell  the 
boys ;  they  will  laugh  at  me  so,'  begged  the  invalid. 
Kind  Miss  Crane  promised  not  to,  but  Sally,  the  girl, 


BOUND   THE  FIEE.  345 

told  the  story,  and  poor  Lewis  had  no  peace  for  a  long 
time.  His  mates  called  him  Old  Gooseberry,  and  were 
never  tired  of  asking  him  the  price  of  tarts." 

"  Served  him  right,"  said  Emil. 

"  Badness  always  gets  found  out,"  added  Demi, 
morally. 

"  No,  it  don't,"  muttered  Jack,  who  was  tending  the 
apples  with  great  devotion,  so  that  he  might  keep  his 
back  to  the  rest  and  account  for  his  red  face. 

"Is  that  all?"  asked  Dan. 

"  No,  that  is  only  the  first  part ;  the  second  part  is 
more  interesting.  Some  time  after  this  a  peddler  came 
by  one  day  and  stopped  to  show  his  things  to  the  boys, 
several  of  whom  bought  pocket-combs,  jew's-harps,  and 
various  trifles  of  that  sort.  Among  the  knives  was  a 
little  white-handled  penknife  that  Lewis  wanted  very 
much,  but  he  had  spent  all  his  pocket-money,  and  no 
one  had  any  to  lend  him.  He  held  the  knife  in  his 
hand,  admiring  and  longing  for  it,  till  the  man  packed 
up  his  goods  to  go,  then  he  reluctantly  laid  it  down, 
and  the  man  wrent  on  his  way.  The  next  day,  however, 
the  peddler  returned  to  say  that  he  could  not  find  that 
very  knife,  and  thought  he  must  have  left  it  at  Miss 
Crane's.  It  was  a  very  nice  one  with  a  pearl  handle, 
and  he  could  not  afford  to  lose  it.  Every  one  looked, 
and  every  one  declared  they  knew  nothing  about  it. 
This  young  gentleman  had  it  last,  and  seemed  to 
want  it  very  much.  4  Are  you  quite  sure  you  put  it 
back  ? '  said  the  man  to  Lewis,  who  was  much  troubled 
at  the  loss,  and  vowed  over  and  over  again  that  he  did 
return  it.  His  denials  seemed  to  do  no  good,  however, 
for  every  one  was  sure  he  had  taken  it,  and  after  a 


346  LITTLE  MEN. 

stormy  scene  Miss  Crane  paid  for  it,  and  the  man  went 
grumbling  away." 

"  Did  Lewis  have  it?"  cried  Xat,  much  excited. 

"  You  will  see.  Now  poor  Lewis  had  another  trial 
to  bear,  for  the  boys  were  constantly  saying,  '  Lend  me 
your  pearl-handled  knife,  Gooseberry,'  and  things  of 
that  sort,  till  Lewis  was  so  unhappy  he  begged  to  be 
sent  home.  Miss  Crane  did  her  best  to  keep  the  boys 
quiet,  but  it  was  hard  work,  for  they  would  tease,  and 
she  could  not  be  with  them  all  the  time.  That  is  one 
of  the  hardest  tilings  to  teach  boys ;  they  won't '  hit  a 
fellow  when  he  is  down,'  as  they  say,  but  they  will  tor- 
ment him  in  little  ways  till  he  would  thank  them  to 
fight  it  out  all  round." 

"  I  know  that,"  said  Dan. 

"  So  do  I,"  added  Nat,  softly. 

Jack  said  nothing,  but  he  quite  agreed ;  for  he  knew 
that  the  elder  boys  despised  him,  and  let  him  alone  for 
that  very  reason. 

"  Do  go  on  about  poor  Lewis,  Aunt  Jo.  I  don't  be- 
lieve he  took  the  knife,  but  I  want  to  be  sure,"  said 
Daisy,  in  great  anxiety. 

"  Well,  week  after  week  went  on  and  the  matter  was 
not  cleared  up.  The  boys  avoided  Lewis,  and  he,  poor 
fellow,  was  almost  sick  with  the  trouble  he  had  brought 
upon  himself.  He  resolved  never  to  tell  another  lie, 
and  tried  so  hard  that  Miss  Crane  pitied  and  helped 
him,  and  really  came  at  last  to  believe  that  he  did  not 
take  the  knife.  Two  months  after  the  peddler's  first 
visit,  he  came  again,  and  the  first  thing  he  said  was  — 

"'Well,  ma'am,  I  found  that  knife  after  all.  It  had 
slipped  behind  the  lining  of  my  valise,  and  fell  out  the 


ROUND   THE  FIEE.  347 

other  day  when  I  was  putting  in  a  new  stock  of  goods. 
I  thought  I  'd  call  and  let  you  know,  as  you  paid  for  it, 
and  maybe  would  like  it,  so  here  it  is.' 

"  The  boys  had  all  gathered  round,  and  at  these  words 
they  felt  much  ashamed,  and  begged  Lewis'  pardon  so 
heartily  that  he  could  not  refuse  to  give  it.  Miss  Crane 
presented  the  knife  to  him,  and  he  kept  it  many  years 
to  remind  him  of  the  fault  that  had  brought  him  so 
much  trouble." 

"  I  wonder  why  it  is  that  things  you  eat  on  the  sly 
hurt  you,  and  don't  when  you  eat  them  at  table," 
observed  Stuffy,  thoughtfully. 

"Perhaps  your  conscience  affects  your  stomach," 
said  Mrs.  Jo,  smiling  at  his  speech. 

"  He  is  thinking  of  the  cucumbers,"  said  Ned,  and  a 
gale  of  merriment  followed  the  words,  for  Stuffy's  last 
mishap  had  been  a  funny  one. 

He  ate  two  large  cucumbers  in  private,  felt  very  ill, 
and  confided  his  anguish  to  Ned,  imploring  him  to  do 
something.  Ned  good-naturedly  recommended  a  mus- 
tard plaster  and  a  hot  flat  iron  to  the  feet ;  only  in 
applying  these  remedies  he  reversed  the  order  of 
things,  and  put  the  plaster  on  the  feet,  the  flat  iron  on 
the  stomach,  and  poor  Stuffy  was  found  in  the  barn 
with  blistered  soles  and  a  scorched  jacket. 

"  Suppose  you  tell  another  story,  that  was  such  an 
interesting  one,"  said  Nat,  as  the  laughter  subsided. 

Before  Mrs.  Jo  could  refuse  these  insatiable  Oliver 
Twists,  Rob  walked  into  the  room  trailing  his  little  bed- 
cover after  him,,  and  wearing  an  expression  of  great 
sweetness  as  he  said,  steering  straight  to  his  mother  as 
a  sure  haven  of  refuge,  — 


348  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  I  heard  a  great  noise,  and  I  thought  suuifin  dreffle 
might  have  happened,  so  I  came  to  see." 

"  Did  you  think  I  would  forget  you,  naughty  boy  ? " 
asked  his  mother,  trying  to  look  stern. 

"  No ;  but  I  thought  you  'd  feel  better  to  see  me 
right  here,"  responded  the  insinuating  little  party. 

"  I  had  much  rather  see  you  in  bed,  so  march  straight 
up  again,  Robin." 

"  Everybody  that  comes  in  here  has  to  tell  a  story, 
and  you  can't,  so  you  'd  better  cut  and  run,"  said  Emil. 

"  Yes,  I  can !  I  tell  Teddy  lots  of  ones,  all  about 
bears  and  moons,  and  little  flies  that  say  things  when 
they  buzz,"  protested  Rob,  bound  to  stay  at  any  price. 

"  Tell  one  now,  then,  right  away,"  said  Dan,  prepar- 
ing to  shoulder  and  bear  him  off. 

"  Well,  I  will ;  let  me  fink  a  minute,"  and  Rob 
climbed  into  his  mother's  lap,  where  he  was  cuddled, 
with  the  remark  — 

"It  is  a  family  failing,  this  getting  out  of  bed  at 
wrong  times.  Demi  used  to  do  it ;  and  as  for  me,  I 
was  hopping  in  and  out  all  night  long.  Meg  used  to 
think  the  house  was  on  fire,  and  send  me  down  to  see, 
and  I  used  to  stay  and  enjoy  myself,  as  you  mean  to, 
my  bad  son." 

"  I  've  finked  now,"  observed  Rob,  quite  at  his  ease, 
and  eager  to  win  the  entree  into  this  delightful  circle. 

Every  one  looked  and  listened  with  faces  full  of  sup- 
pressed merriment  as  Rob,  perched  on  his  mother's 
knee  and  wrapped  in  the  gay  coverlet,  told  the  follow- 
ing brief  but  tragic  tale  with  an  earnestness  that  made 
it  very  funny  :  — 

"  Once  a  lady  had  a  million  children,  and  one  nice 


ROUND  THE  FIEE.  349 

little  boy.  She  went  up-stairs  and  said, « You  mustn't 
go  in  the  yard.'  But  he  wented,  and  fell  into  the 
pump,  and  was  drowned  dead." 

"Is  that  all?"  asked  Franz,  as  Rob  paused  out  of 
breath  with  this  startling  beginning. 

"  No,  there  is  another  piece  of  it,"  and  Rob  knit  his 
downy  eyebrows  in  the  effort  to  evolve  another  inspira- 
tion. 

"  What  did  the  lady  do  when  he  fell  into  the  pump  ?  " 
asked  his  mother,  to  help  him  on. 

"Oh,  she  pumped  him  up,  and  wrapped  him  in  a 
newspaper,  and  put  him  on  a  shelf  to  dry  for  seed." 

A  general  explosion  of  laughter  greeted  this  sur- 
prising conclusion,  and  Mrs.  Jo  patted  the  curly  head, 
as  she  said,  solemnly,  — 

"My  son,  you  inherit  your  mother's  gift  of  story- 
telling. Go  where  glory  waits  thee." 

"  Now  I  can  stay,  can't  I  ?  Wasn't  it  a  good  story  ?  " 
cried  Rob,  in  high  feather  at  his  superb  success. 

"  You  can  stay  till  you  have  eaten  these  twelve  pop- 
corns," said  his  mother,  expecting  to  see  them  v-anish 
at  one  mouthful. 

But  Rob  was  a  shrewd  little  man,  and  got  the  better 
of  her  by  eating  them  one  by  one  very  slowly,  and 
enjoying  every  minute  with  all  his  might. 

"  Hadn't  you  better  tell  the  other  story,  while  you 
wait  for  him  ?"  said  Demi,  anxious  that  no  time  should 
be  lost. 

"  I  really  have  nothing  but  a  little  tale  about  a  wood- 
box,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  seeing  that  Rob  had  still  seven  corns 
to  eat. 

"  Is  there  a  boy  in  it  ?  " 


350  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  It  is  all  boy." 

"  Is  it  true  ?  "  asked  Demi. 

"  Every  bit  of  it." 

"  Goody !  tell  on,  please." 

"  James  Snow  and  his  mother  lived  in  a  little  house, 
up  in  New  Hampshire.  They  were  poor,  and  James 
had  to  work  to  help  his  mother,  but  he  loved  books  so 
well  he  hated  work,  and  just  wanted  to  sit  and  study 
all  day  long." 

"  How  could  he !  I  hate  books,  and  like  work,"  said 
Dan,  objecting  to  James  at  the  very  outset. 

"  It  takes  all  sorts  of  people  to  make  a  world ;  workers 
and  students  both  are  needed,  and  there  is  room  for  all. 
But  I  think  the  workers  should  study  some,  and  the 
students  should  know  how  to  work  if  necessary," 
answered  Mrs.  Jo,  looking  from  Dan  to  Demi  with 
a  significant  expression. 

"  I  'm  sure  I  do  work,"  and  Demi  showed  three  small 
hard  spots  in  his  little  palm,  with  pride. 

"  And  I  'm  sure  I  study,"  added  Dan,  nodding  wTith  a 
groan  toward  the  blackboard  full  of  neat  figures. 

"  See  what  James  did.  He  did  not  mean  to  be  self- 
ish, but  his  mother  was  proud  of  him,  and  let  him  do 
as  he  liked,  working  away  by  herself  that  he  might 
have  books  and  time  to  read  them.  One  autumn  James 
wanted  to  go  to  school,  and  went  to  the  minister  to  see 
if  he  would  help  him,  about  decent  clothes  and  books. 
Now  the  minister  had  heard  the  gossip  about  James's 
idleness,  and  was  not  inclined  to  do  much  for  him, 
thinking  that  a  boy  who  neglected  his  mother,  and 
let  her  slave  for  him,  was  not  likely  to  do  very  well 
even  at  school.  But  the  good  man  felt  more  interested 


PiOUND   THE  FIRE.  351 

when  he  found  how  earnest  James  was,  and  being 
rather  an  odd  man,  he  made  this  proposal  to  the  boy, 
to  try  how  sincere  he  was. 

" '  I  will  give  you  clothes  and'  books  on  one  condition, 
James.' 

"'What  is  that,  sir?'  and  the  boy  brightened  up  at 
once. 

" '  You  are  to  keep  your  mother's  wood-box  full  all 
winter  long,  and  do  it  yourself.  If  you  fail,  school 
stops.'  James  laughed  at  the  queer  condition  and 
readily  agreed  to  it,  thinking  it  a  very  easy  one. 

"  He  began  school,  and  for  a  time  got  on  capitally 
with  the  wood-box,  for  it  was  autumn,  and  chips  and 
brush-wood  were  plentiful.  He  ran  out  morning  and 
evening  and  got  a  basket  full,  or  chopped  up  the  cat 
sticks  for  the  little  cooking  stove,  and  as  his  mother 
was  careful  and  saving,  the  task  was  not  hard.  But 
in  November  the  frost  came,  the  days  were  dull  and 
cold,  and  wood  went  fast.  His  mother  bought  a  load 
with  her  own  earnings,  but  it  seemed  to  melt  away, 
and  was  nearly  gone,  before  James  remembered  that  he 
was  to  get  the  next.  Mrs.  Snow  was  feeble  and  lame 
with  rheumatism,  and  unable  to  work  as  she  had  done, 
so  James  had  to  put  down  his  books,  and  see  what  he 
could  do. 

"  It  was  hard,  for  he  was  going  on  well,  and  so  inter- 
ested in  his  lessons  that  he  hated  to  stop  except  for 
food  and  sleep.  But  he  knew  the  minister  would  keep 
his  word,  and  much  against  his  will  James  set  about 
earning  money  in  his  spare  hours,  lest  the  wood-box 
should  get  empty.  He  did  all  sorts  of  things,  ran 
errands,  took  care  of  a  neighbor's  cow,  helped  the  old 


352  LITTLE  MEN. 

sexton  dust  and  warm  the  church  on  Sundays,  and  in 
these  ways  got  enough  to  buy  fuel  in  small  quantities. 
But  it  was  hard  work ;  the  days  were  short,  the  winter 
was  bitterly  cold,  the  precious  time  went  fast,  and  the 
dear  books  were  so  fascinating,  that  it  was  sad  to  leave 
them,  for  dull  duties  that  never  seemed  done. 

"  The  minister  watched  him  quietly,  and  seeing  that  he 
was  in  earnest  helped  him  without  his  knowledge.  He 
met  him  often  driving  the  wood  sleds  from  the  forest, 
where  the  men  were  chopping,  and  as  James  plodded 
beside  the  slow  oxen,  he  read  or  studied,  anxious  to  use 
every  minute.  * The  boy  is  worth  helping,  this  lesson 
will  do  him  good,  and  when  he  has  learned  it,  I  will 
give  him  an  easier  one,'  said  the  minister  to  himself, 
and  on  Christmas  eve  a  splendid  load  of  wood  was 
quietly  dropped  at  the  door  of  the  little  house,  with  a 
new  saw  and  a  bit  of  paper,  saying  only  — 

" « The  Lord  helps  those  who  help  themselves.' 

"  Poor  James  expected  nothing,  but  when  he  woke  on 
that  cold  Christmas  morning,  he  found  a  pair  of  warm 
mittens,  knit  by  his  mother,  with  her  stiff  painful 
fingers.  This  gift  pleased  him  very  much,  but  her  kiss 
and  tender  look  as  she  called  him  her  c  good  son,'  was 
better  still.  In  trying  to  keep  her  warm,  he  had  warmed 
his  own  heart,  you  see,  and  in  filling  the  wood-box  he 
had  also  filled  those  months  with  duties  faithfully  done. 
He  began  to  see  this,  to  feel  that  there  was  something 
better  than  books,  and  to  try  to  learn  the  lessons  God 
set  him,  as  well  as  those  his  school-master  gave. 

"  When  he  saw  the  great  pile  of  oak  and  pine  logs  at 
his  door,  and  read  the  little  paper,  he  knew  who  sent  it, 
and  understood  the  minister's  plan;  thanked  him  for 


SOUND   TEE  FIRE.  353 

it,  and  fell  to  work  with  all  his  might.  Other  boys 
frolicked  that  day,  but  James  sawed  wood,  and  I  think 
of  all  the  lads  in  the  town  the  happiest  was  the  one  in 
the  new  mittens,  who  whistled  like  a  blackbird  as  he 
filled  his  mother's  wood-box." 

"  That 's  a  first  rater  1 "  cried  Dan,  who  enjoyed  a 
simple  matter-of-fact  story  better  than  the  finest  fairy 
tale ;  "  I  like  that  fellow  after  all." 

"  I  could  saw  wood  for  you,  Aunt  Jo ! "  said  Demi, 
feeling  as  if  a  new  means  of  earning  money  for  his 
mother  was  suggested  by  the  story. 

"  Tell  about  a  bad  boy.     I  like  them  best,"  said  Nan. 

"  You  'd  better  tell  about  a  naughty  cross-patch  of  a 
girl,"  said  Tommy,  whose  evening  had  been  spoilt  by 
Nan's  unkindness.  It  made  his  apple  taste  bitter,  his 
pop-corn  was.  insipid,  his  nuts  were  hard  to  crack,  and 
the  sight  of  Ned  and  Nan  on  one  bench  made  him 
feel  his  life  a  burden. 

But  there  were  no  more  stories  from  Mrs.  Jo,  for  on 
looking  down  at  Rob  he  was  discovered  to  be  fast  asleep 
with  his  last  corn  firmly  clasped  in  his  chubby  hand. 
Bundling  him  up-in  his  coverlet,  his  mother  carried  him 
away  and  tucked  him  up  with  no  fear  of  his  popping 
out  again. 

"Now  let's  see  who  will  come  next,"  said  Emil, 
setting  the  door  temptingly  ajar. 

Mary  Ann  passed  first,  and  he  called  out  to  her,  but 
Silas  had  warned  her,  and  she  only  laughed  and  hurried 
on  in  spite  of  their  enticements.  Presently  a  door 
opened,  and  a  strong  voice  was  heard  humming  in  the 

"  Ich  weiss  nicht  was  soil  es  bedeuten 
Dass  ich  so  traurig  bin." 
23 


354  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  It 's  Uncle  Fritz ;  all  laugh  loud  and  he  will  be  sure 
to  come  in,"  said  Emil. 

A  wild  burst  of  laughter  followed,  and  in  came  Uncle 
Fritz,  asking,  "  What  is  the  joke,  my  lads  ?  " 

"  Caught !  caught !  you  can't  go  out  till  you  've  told 
a  story,"  cried  the  boys,  slamming  the  door. 

"  So !  that  is  the  joke  then  ?  Well,  I  have  no  wish 
to  go,  it  is  so  pleasant  here,  and  I  pay  my  forfeit  at 
once,"  which  "he  did  by  sitting  down  and  beginning 
instantly  — 

"  A  long  time  ago  your  Grandfather,  Demi,  went  to 
lecture  in  a  great  town,  hoping  to  get  some  money  for 
a  home  for  little  orphans  that  some  good  people  were 
getting  up.  His  lecture  did  well,  and  he  put  a  consid- 
erable sum  of  money  in  his  pocket,  feeling  very  happy 
about  it.  As  he  was  driving  in  a  chaise  to  another 
town,  he  came  to  a  lonely  bit  of  road,  late  in  the  after- 
noon, and  was  just  thinking  what  a  good  place  it  was 
for  robbers  when  he  saw  a  bad-looking  man  come  out 
of  the  woods  in  front  of  him  and  go  slowly  along  as  if 
waiting  till  he  came  up.  The  thought  of  the  money 
made  Grandfather  rather  anxious,  and  at  first  he  had 
a  mind  to  turn  round  and  drive  away.  But  the  horse 
was  tired,  and  then  he  did  not  like  to  suspect  the  man, 
so  he  kept  on,  and  when  he  got  nearer  and  saw  how 
poor  and  sick  and  ragged  the  stranger  looked,  his 
heart  reproached  him,  and  stopping,  he  said  in  his  kind 
voice  — 

" l  My  friend,  you  look  tired ;  let  me  give  you  a  lift.' 
The  man  seemed  surprised,  hesitated  a  minute,  and 
then  got  in.  He  did  not  seem  inclined  to  talk,  but 
Grandfather  kept  on  in  his  wise,  cheerful  way,  speaking 


EOUND   THE  FIRE.  355 

of  what  a  hard  year  it  had  been,  how  much  the  poor 
had  suffered,  and  how  difficult  it  was  to  get  on  some- 
times. The  man  slowly  softened  a  little,  and,  won  by 
the  kind  chat,  told  his  story.  How  he  had  been  sick, 
could  get  no  work,  had  a  family  of  children,  and  was 
almost  in  despair.  Grandfather  was  so  full  of  pity  that 
he  forgot  his  fear,  and,  asking  the  man  his  name,  said  he 
would  try  and  get  him  work  in  the  next  town,  as  he 
had  friends  there.  Wishing  to  get  at  pencil  and  paper, 
to  write  down  the  address,  Grandfather  took  out  his 
plump  pocket-book,  and  the  minute  he  did  so,  the  man's 
eye  was  on  it.  Then  Grandfather  remembered  what  was 
in  it  and  trembled  for  his  money,  but  said  quietly  — 

" c  Yes,  I  have  a  little  sum  here  for  some  poor  orphans. 
I  wish  it  was  my  own,  I  would  so  gladly  give  you  some 
of  it.  I  am  not  rich,  but  I  know  many  of  the  trials  of 
the  poor ;  this  five  dollars  is  mine,  and  I  want  to  give 
it  to  you  for  your  children.' 

"  The  hard,  hungry  look  in  the  man's  eyes  changed  to 
a  grateful  one  as  he  took  the  small  sum,  freely  given, 
and  left  the  orphans'  money  untouched.  He  rode  on 
with  Grandfather  till  they  approached  the  town,  then 
he  asked  to  be  set  down.  Grandpa  shook  hands  with 
him,  and  was  about  to  drive  on,  when  the  man  said,  as 
if  something  made  him,  *I  was  desperate  when  we 
met,  and  I  meant  to  rob  you,  but  you  were  so  kind  I 
couldn't  do  it.  God  bless  you,  sir,  for  keeping  me  from 
it!'" 

"  Did  Grandpa  ever  see  him  again  ? "  asked  Daisy, 
eagerly. 

"  No ;  but  I  believe  the  man  found  work,  and  did 
not  try  robbery  any  more." 


356  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  That  was  a  curious  way  to  treat  him ;  I  'd  have 
knocked  him  down,"  said  Dan. 

"  Kindness  is  always  better  than  force.  Try  it  and 
see,"  answered  Mr.  Bhaer,  rising. 

"Tell  another,  please,"  cried  Daisy. 

"  You  must,  Aunt  Jo  did,"  added  Demi. 

"  Then  I  certainly  won't,  but  keep  my  others  for  next 
time.  Too  many  tales  are  as  bad  as  too  many  bonbons. 
I  have  paid  my  forfeit  and  I  go,"  and  Mr.  Bhaer  ran 
for  his  life,  with  the  whole  flock  in  full  pursuit.  He 
had  the  start,  however,  and  escaped  safely  into  his 
study,  leaving  the  boys  to  go  rioting  back  again. 

They  were  so  stirred  up  by  the  race  that  they  could 
not  settle  to  their  former  quiet,  and  a  lively  game  of 
Blindman's  Buff  followed,  in  which  Tommy  showed 
that  he  had  taken  the  moral  of  the  last  story  to  heart, 
for,  when  he  caught  Nan,  he  whispered  in  her  ear, 
"  I  'm  sorry  I  called  you  a  cross-patch." 

Nan  was  not  to  be  outdone  in  kindness,  so,  when 
they  played  "  Button,  button,  who 's  got  the  button  ?  " 
and  it  was  her  turn  to  go  round,  she  said,  "  Hold  fast 
all  I  give  you,"  with  such  a  friendly  smile  at  Tommy, 
that  he  was  not  surprised  to  find  the  horse-hair  ring  in 
his  hand  instead  of  the  button.  He  only  smiled  back 
at  her  then,  but  when  they  were  going  to  bed,  he  offered 
Xan  the  best  bite  of  his  last  apple  ;  she  saw  the  ring  on 
his  stumpy  little  finger,  accepted  the  bite,  and  peace 
was  declared.  Both  were  sorry  for  the  temporary  cold- 
ness, neither  was  ashamed  to  say,  "  I  was  wrong,  for- 
give me,"  so  the  childish  friendship  remained  unbroken, 
and  the  home  in  the  willow  lasted  long,  a  pleasant  little 
castle  in  the  air. 


CHAPTER     XXI. 
THANKSGIVING. 

THIS  yearly  festival  was  always  kept  at  Plumfield 
in  the  good  old-fashioned  way,  and  nothing  was 
allowed  to  interfere  with  it.  For  days  beforehand,  the 
little  girls  helped  Asia  and  Mrs.  Jo  in  store-room  and 
kitchen,  making  pies  and  puddings,  sorting  fruit,  dusting 
dishes,  and  being  very  busy  and  immensely  important. 
The  boys  hovered  on  the  outskirts  of  the  forbidden 
ground,  sniffing  the  savory  odors,  peeping  in  at  the 
mysterious  performances,  and  occasionally  being  per- 
mitted to  taste  some  delicacy  in  the  process  of  prepa- 
ration. 

Something  more  than  usual  seemed  to  be  on  foot  this 
year,  for  the  girls  were  as  busy  up-stairs  as  down,  so 
were  the  boys  in  school-room  and  barn,  and  a  general 
air  of  bustle  pervaded  the  house.  There  was  a  great 
hunting  up  of  old  ribbons  and  finery,  much  cutting  and 
pasting  of  gold  paper,  and  the  most  remarkable  quan- 
tity of  straw,  gray  cotton,  flannel,  and  big  black  beads, 
used  by  Franz  and  Mrs.  Jo.  Ned  hammered  at  strange 
machines  in  the  workshop,  Demi  and  Tommy  went 
about  murmuring  to  themselves  as  if  learning  some- 
thing. A  fearful  racket  was  heard  in  Emil's  room  at 


358  LITTLE  MEN. 

intervals,  and  peals  of  laughter  from  the  nursery  when 
Rob  and  Teddy  were  sent  for  and  hidden  from  sight 
whole  hours  at  a  time.  But  the  thing  that  puzzled  Mr. 
Bhaer  the  most  was  what  became  of  Rob's  big  pump- 
kin. It  had  been  borne  in  triumph  to  the  kitchen, 
where  a  dozen  golden-tinted  pies  soon  after  appeared. 
It  would  not  have  taken  more  than  a  quarter  of  the 
mammoth  vegetable  to  make  them,  yet  where  was  the 
rest?  It  disappeared,  and  Rob  never  seemed  to  care, 
only  chuckled,  when  it  was  mentioned,  and  told  his 
father,  "  To  wait  and  see,"  for  the  fun  of  the  whole 
thing  was  to  surprise  Father  Bhaer  at  the  end,  and  not 
let  him  know  a  bit  about  what  was  to  happen. 

He  obediently  shut  eyes,  ears,  and  mouth,  and  went 
about  trying  not  to  see  what  was  in  plain  sight,  not  to 
hear  the  tell-tale  sounds  that  filled  the  air,  not  to  under- 
stand any  of  the  perfectly  transparent  mysteries  going 
on  all  about  him.  Being  a  German,  he  loved  these 
simple  domestic  festivals,  and  encouraged  them  with  all 
his  heart,  for  they  made  home  so  pleasant  that  the  boys 
did  not  care  to  go  elsewhere  for  fun. 

When  at  last  the  day  came,  the  boys  went  off  for  a 
long  walk,  that  they  might  have  good  appetites  for  din- 
ner ;  as  if  they  ever  needed  them !  The  girls  remained 
at  home  to  help  set  the  table,  and  give  last  touches  to 
various  affairs  which  filled  their  busy  little  souls  with 
anxiety.  The  school-room  had  been  shut  up  since  the 
night  before,  and  Mr.  Bhaer  was  forbidden  to  enter  it 
on  pain  of  a  beating  from  Teddy,  who  guarded  the  door 
like  a  small  dragon,  though  he  was  dying  to  tell  about 
it,  and  nothing  but  his  father's  heroic  self-denial  in  not 
listening,  kept  him  from  betraying  the  grand  secret. 


THANKSGIVING.  359 

"It's  all  done,  and  it's  perfectly  splendid,"  cried 
Nan,  coming  out  at  last  with  an  air  of  triumph. 

«  The you  know  —  goes  beautifully,  and  Silas 

knows  just  what  to  do  now,"  added  Daisy,  skipping 
with  delight  at  some  unspeakable  success. 

"  I  'm  blest  if  it  ain't  the  'cutest  tiling  I  ever  see,  them 
critters  in  particular,"  and  Silas,  who  had  been  let  into 
the  secret,  went  off  laughing  like  a  great  boy. 

"  They  are  coming ;  I  hear  Emil  roaring  '  Land  lub- 
bers lying  down  below,'  so  we  must  run  and  dress," 
cried  Nan,  and  up-stairs  they  scampered  in  a  great 
hurry. 

The  boys  came  trooping  home  with  appetites  that 
would  have  made  the  big  turkey  tremble,  if  it  had  not 
been  past  all  fear.  They  also  retired  to  dress ;  and  for 
half-an-hour  there  was  a  washing,  brushing,  and  prink- 
ing that  would  have  done  any  tidy  woman's  heart  good 
to  see.  When  the  bell  rang,  a  troop  of  fresh-faced  lads 
with  shiny  hair,  clean  collars,  and  Sunday  jackets  on, 
filed  into  the  dining-room,  where  Mrs.  Jo,  in  her  one 
black  silk,  with  a  knot  of  her  favorite  white  chrysan- 
themums in  her  bosom,  sat  at  the  head  of  the  ta^le, 
"  looking  splendid,"  as  the  boys  said,  whenever  she  got 
herself  up.  Daisy  and  Nan  were  as  gay  as  a  posy  bed 
in  their  new  winter  dresses,  with  bright  sashes  and  hair 
ribbons.  Teddy  was  gorgeous  to  behold  in  a  crimson 
merino  blouse,  and  his  best  button  boots,  which  ab- 
sorbed and  distracted  him  as  much  as  Mr.  Toot's  wrist- 
bands did  on  one  occasion. 

As  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Bhaer  glanced  at  each  other  down 
the  long  table,  with  those  rows  of  happy  faces  on  either 
side,  they  had  a  little  thanksgiving,  all  to  themselves, 


360  LITTLE  MEN. 

and  without  a  word,  for  one  heart  said  to  the  other, 
—  "Our  work  has  prospered,  let  us  be  grateful  and 
go  on." 

The  clatter  of  knives  and  forks  prevented  much  con- 
versation for  a  few  minutes,  and  Mary  Ann  with  an 
amazing  pink  bow  in  her  hair  "  flew  round "  briskly, 
handing  plates  and  ladling  out  gravy.  Nearly  every 
one  had  contributed  to  the  feast,  so  the  dinner  was  a 
peculiarly  interesting  one  to  the  eaters  of  it,  who 
beguiled  the  pauses  by  remarks  on  their  own  pro- 
ductions. 

"  If  these  are  not  good  potatoes  I  never  saw  any," 
observed  Jack,  as  he  received  his  fourth  big  mealy 
one. 

"  Some  of  my  herbs  arc  in  the  stuffing  of  the  turkey, 
that 's  why  it 's  so  nice,"  said  Nan,  taking  a  mouthful 
with  intense  satisfaction. 

"  My  ducks  are  prime  any  way ;  Asia  said  she  never 
cooked  such  fat  ones,"  added  Tommy. 

"Well,  our  carrots  are  beautiful,  ain't  they,  and  our 
parsnips  will  be  ever  so  good  when  we  dig  them,"  put  in 
Dick,  and  Dolly  murmured  his  assent  from  behind  the 
bone  he  was  picking. 

"  I  helped  make  the  pies  with  my  pumpkin,"  called 
out  Robby,  with  a  laugh  which  he  stopped  by  retiring 
into  his  mug. 

"  I  picked  some  of  the  apples  that  the  cider  is  made 
of,"  said  Demi. 

"  I  raked  the  cranberries  for  the  sauce,"  cried  Nat. 

"  I  got  the  nuts,"  added  Dan,  and  so  it  went  on  all 
round  the  table. 

"  Who   made   up   Thanksgiving  ? "    asked  Rob,  for 


THANKSGIVING.  361 

being  lately  promoted  to  jacket  and  trousers  he  felt 
a  new  and  manly  interest  in  the  institutions  of  his 
country. 

"  See  who  can  answer  that  question,"  and  Mr.  Bhaer 
nodded  to  one  or  two  of  his  best  history  boys. 

"  I  know,"  said  Demi,  "  the  Pilgrims  made  it." 

"What  for?"  asked  Rob,  without  waiting  to  learn 
who  the  Pilgrims  were. 

"  I  forget,"  and  Demi  subsided. 

"  I  believe  it  was  because  they  were  not  starved  once, 
and  so  when  they  had  a  good  harvest,  they  said,  '  We 
will  thank  God  for  it,'  and  they  had  a  day  and  called  it 
Thanksgiving,"  said  Dan,  who  liked  the  story  of  the 
brave  men  who  suffered  so  nobly  for  their  faith. 

"  Good !  I  didn't  think  you  would  remember  any 
thing  but  natural  history,"  and  Mr.  Bhaer  tapped  gently 
on  the  table  as  applause  for  his  pupil. 

Dan  looked  pleased;  and  Mrs.  Jo  said  to  her  son, 
"  Now  do  you  understand  about  it,  Robby  ?  " 

"  No,  I  don't.  I  thought  pil-grins  were  a  sort  of  big 
bird  that  lived  on  rocks,  and  I  saw  pictures  of  them  in 
Demi's  book." 

"  He  means  penguins.  Oh,  isn't  he  a  little  goosey !  '* 
and  Demi  laid  back  in  his  chair  and  laughed  aloud. 

"  Don't  laugh  at  him,  but  tell  him  all  about  it  if  you 
can,"  said  Mrs.  Bhaer,  consoling  Rob  with  more  cran- 
berry sauce  for  the  general  smile  that  went  round  the 
table  at  his  mistake. 

"  Well,  I  will ; "  and,  aftei  a  pause  to  collect  his 
ideas,  Demi  delivered  the  following  sketch  of  the 
Pilgrim  Fathers,  which  would  have  made  even  those 
grave  gentlemen  smile  if  they  could  have  heard  it. 


362  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  You  see,  Rob,  some  of  the  people  in  England  didn't 
like  the  king,  or  something,  so  they  got  into  ships  and 
sailed  away  to  this  country.  It  was  all  full  of  Indians, 
and  bears,  and  wild  creatures,  and  they  lived  in  forts, 
and  had  a  dreadful  time." 

"  The  bears  ?  "  asked  Robby,  with  interest. 

"No;  the  Pilgrims,  because  the  Indians  troubled 
them.  They  hadn't  enough  to  eat,  and  they  went  to 
church  with  guns,  and  ever  so  many  died,  and  they  got 
out  of  the  ships  on  a  rock,  and  it 's  called  Plymouth 
Rock,  and  Aunt  Jo  saw  it  and  touched  it.  The  Pil- 
grims killed  all  the  Indians,  and  got  rich;  and  hung 
the  witches,  and  were  very  good ;  and  some  of  my 
greatest  great-grandpas  came  in  the  ships.  One  was 
the  Mayflower;  and  they  made  Thanksgiving,  and 
we  have  it  always,  and  I  like  it.  Some  more  turkey, 
please." 

"I  think  Demi  will  be  an  historian,  there  is  such 
order  and  clearness  in  his  account  of  events;"  and 
Uncle  Fritz's  eyes  laughed  at  Aunt  Jo,  as  he  helped  the 
descendant  of  the  Pilgrims  to  his  third  bit  of  turkey. 

"  I  thought  you  must  eat  as  much  as  ever  you  could 
on  Thanksgiving.  But  Franz  says  you  mustn't  even 
then ; "  and  Stuffy  looked  as  if  he  had  received  bad  news. 

"  Franz  is  right,  so  mind  your  knife  and  fork,  and  be 
moderate,  or  else  you  won't  be  able  to  help  in  the  sur- 
prise by  and  by,"  said  Mrs.  Jo. 

"  I  '11  be  careful ;  but  everybody  does  eat  lots,  and  I 
like  it  better  than  being  moderate,"  said  Stuffy,  who 
leaned  to  the  popular  belief  that  Thanksgiving  must  be 
kept  by  coming  as  near  apoplexy  as  possible,  and  escap- 
ing with  merely  a  fit  of  indigestion  or  a  headache. 


THANKSGIVING.  363 

"  Now,  my  c  pilgrims '  amuse  yourselves  quietly  till 
tea-time,  for  you  will  have  enough  excitement  this  even- 
ing," said  Mrs.  Jo,  as  they  rose  from  the  table  after  a 
protracted  sitting,  finished  by  drinking  every  one's 
health  in  cider. 

"  I  think  I  will  take  the  whole  flock  for  a  drive,  it  is 
so  pleasant ;  then  you  can  rest,  my  dear,  or  you  will  be 
worn  out  this  evening,"  added  Mr.  Bhaer ;  and  as  soon 
as  coats  and  hats  could  be  put  on,  the  great  omnibus 
was  packed  full,  and  away  they  went  for  a  long  gay 
drive,  leaving  Mrs.  Jo  to  rest  and  finish  sundry  small 
affairs  in  peace. 

An  early  and  light  tea  was  followed  by  more  brushing 
of  hair  and  washing  of  hands ;  then  the  flock  waited 
impatiently  for  the  company  to  come.  Only  the  family 
was  expected  ;  for  these  small  revels  were  strictly  do- 
mestic, and  such  being  the  case,  sorrow  was  not  allowed 
to  sadden  the  present  festival.  All  came ;  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  March,  with  Aunt  Meg,  so  sweet  and  lovely,  in 
spite  of  her  black  dress  and  the  little  widow's  cap  that 
encircled  her  tranquil  face.  Uncle  Teddy  and  Aunt 
Amy,  with  the  Princess  looking  more  fairy-like  than 
ever,  in  a  sky-blue  gown,  and  a  great  bouquet  of  hot- 
house flowers,  which  she  divided  among  the  boys, 
sticking  one  in  each  button-hole,  making  them  feel 
peculiarly  elegant  and  festive.  One  strange  face  ap- 
peared, and  Uncle  Teddy  led  the  unknown  gentleman 
up  to  the  Bhaers,  saying  — 

"  This  is  Mr.  Hyde ;  he  has  been  inquiring  about  Dan, 
and  I  ventured  to  bring  him  to  night,  that  he  might  see 
how  much  the  boy  has  improved." 

The  Bhaers  received  him  cordially,  for  Dan's  Bake, 


364  LITTLE  MEN. 

\ 

pleased  that  the  lad  had  been  remembered.  But,  after 
a  few  minutes'  chat,  they  were  glad  to  know  Mr.  Hyde 
for  his  own  sake,  so  genial,  simple,  and  interesting  was 
he.  It  was  pleasant  to  see  the  boy's  face  light  up  when 
he  caught  sight  of  his  friend ;  pleasanter  still  to  see  Mr. 
Hyde's  surprise  and  satisfaction  in  Dan's  improved  man- 
ners and  appearance,  and  pleasantest  of  all  to  watch  the 
two  sit  talking  in  a  corner,  forgetting  the  differences  of 
age,  culture,  and  position,  in  the  one  subject  which  in- 
terested both,  as  man  and  boy  compared  notes,  and 
told  the  story  of  their  summer  life. 

"The  performances  must  begin  soon,  or  the  actors 
will  go  to  sleep,"  said  Mrs.  Jo,  when  the  first  greetings 
were  over. 

So  every  one  went  into  the  school-room,  and  took 
seats  before  a  curtain  made  of  two  big  bed-covers.  The 
children  had  already  vanished;  but  stifled  laughter, 
and  funny  little  exclamations  from  behind  the  curtain, 
betrayed  their  whereabouts.  The  entertainment  began 
with  a  spirited  exhibition  of  gymnastics,  led  by  Franz. 
The  six  elder  lads,  in  blue  trousers  and  red  shirts,  made 
a  fine  display  of  muscle  with  dumb-bells,  clubs,  and 
weights,  keeping  time  to  the  music  of  the  piano,  played 
by  Mrs.  Jo  behind  the  scenes.  Dan  was  so  energetic  in 
this  exercise,  that  there  was  some  danger  of  his  knock- 
ing down  his  neighbors,  like  so  many  nine-pins,  or 
sending  his  bean-bags  whizzing  among  the  audience; 
for  he  was  excited  by  Mr.  Hyde's  presence,  and  a  burn- 
ing desire  to  do  honor  to  his  teachers. 

"A  fine,  strong  lad.  If  I  go  on  my  trip  to  South 
America,  in  a  year  or  two,  I  shall  be  tempted  to  ask  you 
to  lend  him  to  me,  Mr.  Bhaer,"  said  Mr.  Hyde,  whose 


THANKSGIVING.  365 

interest  in  Dan  was  much  increased  by  the  report  he 
had  just  heard  of  him. 

"  You  shall  have  him,  and  welcome,  though  we  shall 
miss  our  young  Hercules  very  much.  It  would  do  him 
a  world  of  good,  and  1  am  sure  he  would  serve  his 
friend  faithfully." 

Dan  heard  both  question  and  answer,  and  his  heart 
leaped  with  joy  at  the  thought  of  travelling  in  a  new 
country  with  Mr.  Hyde,  and  swelled  with  gratitude  for 
the  kindly  commendation  which  rewarded  his  efforts  to 
be  all  these  friends  desired  to  see  him. 

After  the  gymnastics,  Demi  and  Tommy  spoke  the 
old  school  dialogue,  "Money  makes  the  mare  go."  Demi 
did  very  well,  but  Tommy  was  capital  as  the  old  far- 
mer ;  for  he  imitated  Silas  in  a  way  that  convulsed  the 
audience,  and  caused  Silas  himself  to  laugh  so  hard  that 
Asia  had  to  slap  him  on  the  back,  as  they  stood  in  the 
hall  enjoying  the  fun  immensely. 

Then  Emil,  who  had  got  his  breath  by  this  time,  gave 
them  a  sea-song  in  costume,  with  a  great  deal  about 
"stormy  winds,"  "lee  shores,"  and  a  rousing  chorus 
of  "Luff,  boys,  luff,"  which  made  the  room  ring; 
after  which  Ned  performed  a  funny  Chinese  dance, 
and  hopped  about  like  a  large  frog  in  a  pagoda  hat. 
As  this  was  the  only  public  exhibition  ever  had  at 
Plumfield,  a  few  exercises  in  lightening  —  arithmetic, 
spelling,  and  reading — were  given.  Jack  quite  amazed 
the  public  by  his  rapid  calculations  on  the  blackboard. 
Tommy  won  in  the  spelling  match,  and  Demi  read  a  little 
French  fable  so  well  that  uncle  Teddy  was  charmed. 

"Where  are  the  other  children?"  asked  every  one  as 
the  curtain  fell,  and  none  of  the  little  ones  appeared. 


366  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  Oh,  that  is  the  surprise.  It 's  so  lovely,  I  pity  you 
because  you  don't  know  it,"  said  Demi,  who  had  gone 
to  get  his  mother's  kiss,  and  stayed  by  her  to  explain  the 
mystery  when  it  should  be  revealed. 

Goldilocks  had  been  carried  off  by  Aunt  Jo,  to  the 
great  amazement  of  her  papa,  who  quite  outdid  Mr. 
Bhaer  in  acting  wonder,  suspense,  and  wild  impatience 
to  know  "  what  was  going  to  happen." 

At  last,  after  much  rustling,  hammering,  and  very 
audible  directions  from  the  stage  manager,  the  curtain 
rose  to  soft  music,  and  Bess  was  discovered  sitting  on 
a  stool  beside  a  brown  paper  fire-place.  A  dearer  little 
Cinderella  was  never  seen ;  for  the  gray  gown  was  very 
ragged,  the  tiny  shoes  all  worn,  the  face  so  pretty  under 
the  bright  hair,  and  the  attitude  so  dejected,  it  brought 
tears,  as  well  as  smiles,  to  the  fond  eyes  looking  at  the 
baby  actress.  She  sat  quite  still,  till  a  voice  whispered, 
"  Now ! "  —  then  she  sighed  a  funny  little  sigh,  and  said, 
"  Oh,  I  wish  I  tood  go  to  the  ball ! "  so  naturally,  that 
her  father  clapped  frantically,  and  her  mother  called 
out,  "  Little  darling ! "  These  highly  improper  expres- 
sions of  feeling  caused  Cinderella  to  forget  herself,  and 
shake  her  head  at  them,  saying,  reprovingly,  *  You 
mustn't  'peak  to  me." 

Silence  instantly  prevailed,  and  three  taps  were  heard 
on  the  wall.  Cinderella  looked  alarmed,  but  before  she 
could  remember  to  say,  "  What  is  dat  ? "  the  back  of 
the  brown  paper  fire-place  opened  like  a  door,  and,  with 
some  difficulty,  the  fairy  godmother  got  herself  and  her 
pointed  hat  through.  It  was  Nan,  in  a  red  cloak,  a  cap, 
and  a  wand,  which  she  waved  as  she  said  decidedly  — 

"  You  shall  go  to  the  ball,  my  dear." 


THANKSGIVING.  367 

"  Now  you  must  pull  and  show  my  pretty  dess,"  re- 
turned Cinderella,  tugging  at  her  brown  gown. 

"  NQ,  no ;  you  must  say, '  How  can  I  go  in  my  rags  ? ' " 
said  the  godmother  in  her  own  voice. 

"  Oh  yes,  so  I  mus ; "  and  the  Princess  said  it,  quite 
undisturbed  at  her  forgetfulness. 

"  I  change  your  rags  into  a  splendid  dress,  because 
you  are  good,"  said  the  godmother  in  her  stage  tones ; 
and  deliberately  unbuttoning  the  brown  pinafore,  she 
displayed  a  gorgeous  sight. 

The  little  Princess  really  was  pretty  enough  to  turn 
the  heads  of  any  number  of  small  princes,  for  her 
mamma  had  dressed  her  like  a  tiny  court  lady,  in  a 
rosy  silk  train  with  satin  under-skirt,  and  bits  of  bouquets 
here  and  there,  quite  lovely  to  behold.  The  godmother 
put  a  crown,  with  pink  and  white  feathers  drooping 
from  it,  on  her  head,  and  gave  her  a  pair  of  silver  paper 
slippers,  which  she  put  on,  and  then  stood  up,  lifting 
her  skirts  to  show  them  to  the  audience,  saying,  with 
pride,  "  My  dlass  ones,  ain't  they  pitty  ?  " 

She  was  so  charmed  with  them,  that  she  was  with 
difficulty  recalled  to  her  part,  and  made  to  say  — 

"  But  I  have  no  toach,  Dodmother." 

"  Behold  it ! "  and  Nan  waved  her  wand  with  such  a 
flourish,  that  she  nearly  knocked  off  the  crown  of  the 
Princess. 

Then  appeared  the  grand  triumph  of  the  piece.  First, 
a  rope  was  seen  to  flap  on  the  floor,  to  tighten  with  a 
twitch  as  Emil's  voice  was  heard  to  say,  "Heave,  a 
hoy ! "  and  Silas's  gruff  one  to  reply,  "  Stiddy,  now, 
stiddy  ! "  A  shout  of  laughter  followed,  for  four  large 
gray  rats  appeared,  rather  shaky  as  to  their  legs  and  queer 


368  LITTLE  MEN. 

as  to  their  tails,  but  quite  fine  about  the  head,  whero 
black  beads  shone  in  the  most  lifelike  manner.  They 
drew,  or  were  intended  to  appear  as  if  they  did,  a  mag- 
nificent coach  made  of  half  the  mammoth  pumpkin, 
mounted  on  the  wheels  of  Teddy's  wagon/painted  yel- 
low to  match  the  gay  carriage.  Perched  on  a  seat  in 
front  sat  a  jolly  little  coachman  in  a  white  cotton-wool 
wig,  cocked  hat,  scarlet  breeches,  and  laced  coat,  who 
cracked  a  long  whip  and  jerked  the  red  reins  so  energet- 
ically, that  the  gray  steeds  reared  finely.  It  was  Teddy, 
and  he  beamed  upon  the  company  so  affably  that  they 
gave  him  a  round  all  to  himself;  and  Uncle  Laurie  said, 
"If  I  could  find  as  sober  a  coachman  as  that  one,  I 
would  engage  him  on  the  spot."  The  coach  stopped,  the 
godmother  lifted  in  the  Princess,  and  she  was  trundled 
away  in  state,  kissing  her  hand  to  the  public,  with  her 
glass  shoes  sticking  up  in  front,  and  her  pink  train  sweep- 
ing the  ground  behind,  for,  elegant  as  the  coach  was,  I 
regret  to  say  that  her  Highness  was  rather  a  tight  fit. 

The  next  scene  was  the  ball,  and  here  Nan  and  Daisy 
appeared  as  gay  as  peacocks  in  all  sorts  of  finery.  Nan 
was  especially  good  as  the  proud  sister,  and  crushed 
many  imaginary  ladies  as  she  swept  about  the  palace- 
hall.  The  Prince,  in  solitary  state  upon  a  somewhat 
unsteady  throne,  sat  gazing  about  him  from  under  an 
imposing  crown,  as  he  played  with  his  sword  and  ad- 
mired the  rosettes  in  his  shoes.  When  Cinderella  came 
in  he  jumped  up,  and  exclaimed,  with  more  warmth 
than  elegance, — 

"My  gracious!  who  is  that?"  and  immediately  led 
the  lady  out  to  dance,  while  the  sisters  scowled  and 
turned  up  their  noses  in  the  corner. 


THE    PRINCESS    AND    THE    PRINCE. 

"The  stately  jig  executed  by  the  little  couple  was  very  pretty,  for  the  child- 
.  ish  faces  were  so  earnest,  the  costumes  so  gay,  and  the  steps  so  peculiar,  that  they 
looked  like  the  dainty  quaint  figures  painted  on  a  Watteau  fan."  —  PAGE  369. 


THANKSGIVING.  369 

The  stately  jig  executed  by  the  little  couple  was  very 
pretty,  for  the  childish  faces  were  so  earnest,  the  cos- 
tumes so  gay,  and  the  steps  so  peculiar,  that  they 
looked  like  the  dainty  quaint  figures  painted  on  a 
Watteau  fan.  The  Princess's  train  was  veiy  much  in 
her  way,  and  the  sword  of  Prince  Rob  nearly  tripped 
him  up  several  times.  But  they  overcame  these  obsta- 
cles remarkably  well,  and  finished  the  dance  with  much 
grace  and  spirit,  considering  that  neither  knew  what 
the  other  was  about. 

"Drop  your  shoe,"  whispered  Mrs.  Jo's  voice  as  the 
lady  was  about  to  sit  down. 

"  Oh,  I  fordot ! "  and,  taking  off  one  of  the  silvery 
slippers,  Cinderella  planted  it  carefully  in  the  middle  of 
the  stage,  said  to  Rob,  "  Now  you  must  try  and  tatch 
me,"  and  ran  away,  while  the  Prince,  picking  up  the 
shoe,  obediently  trotted  after  her. 

The  third  scene,  as  everybody  knows,  is  where  the 
herald  comes  to  try  on  the  shoe.  Teddy,  still  in  coach- 
man's dress,  came  in  blowing  a  tin  fish-horn  melodi- 
ously, and  the  proud  sisters  each  tried  to  put  on  the 
slipper.  Nan  insisted  on  playing  cut  off  her  toe  with  a 
carving-knife,  and  performed  that  operation  so  well  that 
the  herald  was  alarmed,  and  begged  to  be  "  welly  keer- 
ful."  Cinderella  then  was  called,  and  came  in  with  the 
pinafore  half  on,  slipped  her  foot  into  the  slipper,  and 
announced,  with  satisfaction,  — 

"I  am  the  Pinsiss." 

Daisy  wept,  and  begged  pardon ;  but  Nan,  who  liked 
tragedy,  improved  upon  the  story,  and  fell  in  a  fainting- 
fit upon  the  floor,  where  she  remained  comfortably  en- 
joying the  rest  of  the  play.  It  was  not  long,  for  the 
24 


370  LITTLE  MEN. 

Prince  ran  in,  dropped  upon  his  knees,  and  kissed  the 
hand  of  Goldilocks  with  great  ardor,  while  the  herald 
blew  a  blast  that  nearly  deafened  the  audience.  The 
curtain  had  no  chance  to  fall,  for  the  Princess  ran  off 
the  stage  to  her  father,  crying,  "  Didn't  I  do  it  well  ?  " 
while  the  Prince  and  herald  had  a  fencing-match  with 
the  tin  horn  and  wooden  sword. 

"  It  was  beautiful ! "  said  every  one ;  and,  when  the 
raptures  had  a  little  subsided,  Nat  came  out  with  his 
violin  in  his  hand. 

"Hush!  hush!"  cried  all  the  children,  and  silence 
followed,  for  something  in  the  boy's  bashful  manner  and 
appealing  eyes  made  every  one  listen  kindly. 

The  Bhaers  thought  he  would  play  some  of  the  old 
airs  he  knew  so.  well,  but,  to  their  surprise,  they  heard 
a  new  and  lovely  melody,  so  softly,  sweetly  played,  that 
they  could  hardly  believe  it  could  be  Nat.  It  was  one 
of  those  songs  without  words  that  touch  the  heart,  and 
sing  of  all  tender  home-like  hopes  and  joys,  soothing 
and  cheering  those  who  listen  to  its  simple  music. 
Aunt  Meg  leaned  her  head  on  Demi's  shoulder,  Grand- 
mother wiped  her  eyes,  and  Mrs.  Jo  looked  up  at  Mr. 
Laurie,  saying,  in  a  choky  whisper, — 

"You  composed  that." 

u  I  wanted  your  boy  to  do  you  honor,  and  thank  you 
in  his  own  way,"  answered  Laurie,  leaning  down  to 
answer  her. 

When  Nat  made  his  bow  and  was  about  to  go,  he 
was  called  back  by  many  hands,  and  had  to  play  again. 
He  did  so  with  such  a  happy  face,  that  it  was  good  to 
see  him,  for  he  did  his  best,  and  gave  them  the  gay  old 
tunes  that  set  the  feet  to  dancing,  and  made  quietude 
impossible. 


THANKSGIVING.  371 

"  Clear  the  floor ! "  cried  Emil ;  and  in  a  minute  the 
chairs  were  pushed  back,  the  older  people  put  safely  in 
corners,  and  the  children  gathered  on  the  stage. 

"  Show  your  manners ! "  called  Emil ;  and  the  boys 
pranced  up  to  the  ladies,  old  and  young,  with  polite 
invitations  to  "  tread  the  mazy,"  as  dear  Dick  Swiveller 
has  it.  The  small  lads  nearly  came  to  blows  for  the 
Princess,  but  she  chose  Dick,  like  a  kind,  little  gentle- 
woman as  she  was,  and  let  him  lead  her  proudly  to  her 
place.  Mrs.  Jo  was  not  allowed  to  decline  ;  and  Aunt 
Amy  filled  Dan  with  unspeakable  delight  by  refusing 
Franz  and  taking  him.  Of  course  Nan  and  Tommy, 
Nat  and  Daisy,  paired  off,  while  Uncle  Teddy  went  and 
got  Asia,  who  was  longing  to  "jig  it,"  and  felt  much 
elated  by  the  honor  done  her.  Silas  and  Mary  Ann 
had  a  private  dance  in  the  hall ;  and  for  half-an-hour 
Plumfield  was  at  its  merriest. 

The  party  wound  up  with  a  grand  promenade  of  all 
the  young  folks,  headed  by  the  pumpkin-coach  with  the 
Princess  and  driver  inside,  and  the  rats  in  a  wildly 
frisky  state. 

While  the  children  enjoyed  this  final  frolic,  the  elders 
sat  in  the  parlor  looking  on  as  they  talked  together  of 
the  little  people  with  the  interest  of  parents  and  friends. 

"  What  are  you  thinking  of,  all  by  yourself,  with  such 
a  happy  face,  sister  Jo  ? "  asked  Laurie,  sitting  down 
beside  her  on  the  sofa. 

"  My  summer's  work,  Teddy,  and  amusing  myself  by 
imagining  the  future  of  my  boys,"  she  answered,  smiling, 
as  she  made  room  for  him. 

"  They  are  all  to  be  poets,  ^inters,  and  statesmen,  fa? 
mous  soldiers,  or  at  least  merchant  princes,  I  suppose." 


872  LITTLE  MEN. 

"  No,  I  am  not  as  aspiring  as  I  once  was,  and  I  shall 
be  satisfied  if  they  are  honest  men.  But  I  will  confess 
that  I  do  expect  a  little  glory  and  a  career  for  some  of 
them.  Demi  is  not  a  common  child,  and  I  think  he 
will  blossom  into  something  good  and  great  in  the  best 
sense  of  the  word.  The  others  will  do  well,  I  hope, 
especially  my  last  two  boys,  for,  after  hearing  Nat  play 
to-night,  I  really  think  he  has  genius." 

"  Too  soon  to  say ;  talent  he  certainly  has,  and  there 
is  no  doubt  that  the  boy  can  soon  earn  his  bread  by  the 
work  he  loves.  Build  him  up  for  another  year  or  so, 
and  then  I  will  take  him  off  your  hands,  and  launch 
him  properly." 

"  That  is  such  a  pleasant  prospect  for  poor  Nat,  w^ho 
came  to  me  six  months  ago  so  friendless  and  forlorn. 
Dan's  future  is  already  plain  to  me.  Mr.  Hyde  will 
want  him  soon,  and  I  mean  to  give  him  a  brave  and 
feithful  little  servant.  Dan  is  one  who  can  serve  well 
if  the  wages  are  love  and  confidence,  and  he  has  the 
energy  to  carve  out  his  own  future  in  his  own  way. 
Yes,  I  am  very  happy  over  our  success  with  these  boys 
-TT  one  so  weak,  and  one  so  wild ;  both  so  much  better 
now,  and  so  full  of  promise." 

"  What  magic  did  you  use,  Jo  ?  " 

"  I  only  loved  them,  and  let  them  see  it.  Fritz  did 
the  rest." 

"Dear  soul!  you  look  as  if  'only  loving'  had  been 
rather  hard  work  sometimes,"  said  Laurie,  stroking  her 
thin  cheek  with  a  look  of  more  tender  admiration  than 
he  had  ever  given  her  as  a  girl. 

"  I  'm  a  faded  old  woman,  but  I  'm  a  very  happy  one ; 
so  don't  pity  me,  Teddy ; "  and  she  glanced  about  the 
room  with  eyes  frill  of  a  sincere  content. 


THANKSGIVING.   *  373 

"Yes,  your  plan  seems  to  work  better  and  better 
every  year,"  he  said,  with  an  emphatic  nod  of  approval 
toward  the  cheery  scene  before  him. 

"  How  can  it  fail  to  work  well  when  I  have  so  much 
help  from  you  all  ? "  answered  Mrs.  Jo,  looking  grate- 
fully at  her  most  generous  patron. 

"It  is  the  best  joke  of  the  family,  this  school  of  yours 
and  its  success.  So  unlike  the  future  we  planned  for 
you,  and  yet  so  suited  to  you  after  all.  It  was  a  regular 
inspiration,  Jo,"  said  Laurie,  dodging  her  thanks  as 
usual. 

"  Ah !  but  you  laughed  at  it  in  the  beginning,  and 
still  make  all  manner  of  fun  of  me  and  my  inspirations. 
Didn't  you  predict  that  having  girls  with  the  boys  would 
prove  a  dead  failure  ?  Now  see  how  well  it  works ; " 
and  she  pointed  to  the  happy  group  of  lads  and  lassies 
dancing,  singing,  and  chattering  together  with  every 
sign  of  kindly  good  fellowship. 

"  I  give  in,  and  when  my  Goldilocks  is  old  enough 
I  '11  send  her  to  you.  Can  I  say  more  than  that  ?  " 

"  I  shall  be  so  proud  to  have  your  little  treasure 
trusted  to  me.  But  really,  Teddy,  the  effect  of  these 
girls  has  been  excellent.  I  know  you  will  laugh  at  me, 
but  I  don't  mind,  I  'm  used  to  it ;  so  I  '11  tell  you  that 
one  of  my  favorite  fancies  is  to  look  at  my  family  as  a 
small  world,  to  watch  the  progress  of  my  little  men, 
and,  lately,  to  see  how  well  the  influence  of  my  little 
women  works  upon  them.  Daisy  is  the  domestic  ele- 
ment, and  they  all  feel  the  charm  of  her  quiet,  womanly 
ways.  Nan  is  the  restless,  energetic,  strong-minded 
one;  they  admire  her  courage,  and  give  her  a  fair 
chance  to  work  out  her  will,  seeing  that  she  has  sym- 


374  LITTLE  MEN. 

pathy  as  well  as  strength,  and  the  power  to  do  much  in 
their  small  world.  Your  Bess  is  the  lady,  full  of  natural 
refinement,  grace,  and  beauty.  She  polishes  them  un- 
consciously, and  fills  her  place  as  any  lovely  woman 
may,  using  her  gentle  influence  to  lift  and  hold  them 
above  the  coarse,  rough  things  of  life,  and  keep  them 
gentlemen  in  the  best  sense  of  the  fine  old  word." 

"  It  is  not  always  the  ladies  who  do  that  best,  Jo.  It 
is  sometimes  the  strong  brave  woman  who  stirs  up  the 
boy  and  makes  a  man  of  him ; "  and  Laurie  bowed  to 
her  with  a  significant  laugh. 

"  No ;  I  think  the  graceful  woman,  whom  the  boy  you 
allude  to  married,  has  done  more  for  him  than  the  wild 
Nan  of  his  youth ;  or,  better  still,  the  wise,  motherly 
woman  who  watched  over  him,  as  Daisy  watches  over 
Demi,  did  most  to  make  him  what  he  is ; "  and  Jo 
turned  toward  her  mother,  who  sat  a  little  apart  with 
Meg,  looking  so  full  of  the  sweet  dignity  and  beauty  of 
old  age,  that  Laurie  gave  her  a  glance  of  filial  respect 
and  love  as  he  replied,  in  serious  earnest,  — 

"  All  three  did  much  for  him,  and  I  can  understand 
how  well  these  little  girls  will  help  your  lads." 

"  Not  more  than  the  lads  help  them ;  it  is  mutual,  I 
assure  you.  Nat  does  much  for  Daisy  with  his  music ; 
Dan  can  manage  Nan  better  than  any  of  us ;  and  Demi 
teaches  your  Goldilocks  so  easily  and  well  that  Fritz 
calls  them  Roger  Ascham  and  Lady  Jane  Grey.  Dear 
me  !  if  men  and  women  would  only  trust,  understand, 
and  help  one  another  as  my  children  do,  what  a  capital 
place  the  world  would  be  !  "  and  Mrs.  Jo's  eyes  grew 
absent,  as  if  she  was  looking  at  a  new  and  charming 
state  of  society  in  which  people  lived  as  happily  and 
innocently  as  her  flock  at  Plumfield. 


THANKSGIVING.  375 

"  You  are  doing  your  best  to  help  on  the  good  time, 
my  dear.  Continue  to  believe  in  it,  to  work  for  itj  and 
to  prove  its  possibility  by  the  success  of  your  small 
experiment,"  said  Mr.  March,  pausing  as  he  passed  to 
say  an  encouraging  word,  for  the  good  man  never  lost 
his  faith  in  humanity,  and  still  hoped  to  see  peace, 
good-will,  and  happiness  reign  upon  the  earth. 

"  I  am  not  so  ambitious  as  that,  father.  I  only  want 
to  give  these  children  a  home  in  which  they  can  be 
taught  the  few  simple  things  which  will  help  to  make 
life  less  hard  to  them  when  they  go  out  to  fight  their 
battles  in  the  world.  Honesty,  courage,  industry,  faith 
in  God,  their  fellow-creatures,  and  themselves ;  that  is 
all  I  try  for." 

"  That  is  everything.  Give  them  these  helps,  then  let 
them  go  to  work  out  their  life  as  men  and  women ;  and 
whatever  their  success  or  failure  is,  I  think  they  will 
remember  and  bless  your  efforts,  my  good  son  and 
daughter." 

The  Professor  had  joined  them,  and  as  Mr.  March 
spoke  he  gave  a  hand  to  each,  and  left  them  with  a 
look  that  was  a  blessing.  As  Jo  and  her  husband  stood 
together  for  a  moment  talking  quietly,  and  feeling  that 
their  summer  work  had  been  well  done  if  father  ap- 
proved, Mr.  Laurie  slipped  into  the  hall,  said  a  word  to 
the  children,  and  all  of  a  sudden  the  whole  flock  pranced 
into  the  room,  joined  hands  and  danced  about  Father 
and  Mother  Bhaer,  singing  blithely  — 

"  Summer  days  are  over, 

Summer  work  is  done  ; 
Harvests  have  been  gathered 
Gayly  one  by  one. 


376  LITTLE  MEN. 

Now  the  feast  is  eaten, 

Finished  is  the  play ; 
But  one  rite  remains  for 

Our  Thanksgiving-day. 

"  Best  of  all  the  harvest 

In  the  dear  God's  sight, 
Are  the  happy  children 

In  the  home  to-night ; 
And  we  come  to  offer 

Thanks  where  thanks  are  due, 
With  grateful  hearts  and  voices, 

Father,  mother,  unto  you." 

"With  the  last  words  the  circle  narrowed  till  thS  good 
Professor  and  his  wife  were  taken  prisoner  by  many 
arms,  and  half  hidden  by  the  bouquet  of  laughing 
young  faces  which  surrounded  them,  proving  that  one 
plant  had  taken  root  and  blossomed  beautifully  in  all 
the  little  gardens.  For  love  is  a  flower  that .  grows  in 
any  soil,  works  its  sweet  miracles  undaunted  by  autumn 
frost  or  winter  snow,  blooming  fair  and  fragrant  all  the 
year,  and  blessing  those  who  give  and  those  who 
receive. 


Cambridge.:  Press  of  John  Wilson  and  Son.